Posts Tagged ‘San Antonio Spurs’

NBA: Finals-San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat

NBA: Finals-San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat (Photo credit: completely deck)

 

There are moments in sports that prove larger than life. For the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat that moment approaches in San Antonio, Texas.

 

After two games in Miami the Spurs and Heat have each drawn blood and drawn even.

 

Many now see this series as a “best-of-five” situation, where perhaps they should see it as a “best-of-the-next-three,” and here’s why: the winner of the three-game series in San Antonio will win the championship.

 

Let’s just take a look at the three possible scenarios at stake – either team sweeps, the Spurs win two of three, or the Heat win two of three.

 

The first scenario is obvious and needs no expounding upon. If either team sweeps the San Antonio series they will have won the Finals series 4-1. What may not be obvious is the answer to the question, “which team has a better chance at accomplishing said task?”

 

It may be tempting to give the Spurs the benefit of the doubt, seeing as it is their home court and, surely, the thought of not having to return to Miami for either Game 6 or 7 must give quite a lot of motivation. History, however, would lean towards Miami.

 

Since forming the Miami “Big Three,” the Heat have lost Game 1 four times (including this series). They did not lose another game in any of those three prior series, including the Thunder Finals series last season. It’s highly unlikely that that trend should continue, however.

 

So which, then, of the other possible scenarios is more likely to occur? – San Antonio or Miami winning two of three games?

 

To answer this, one must determine which team is more likely to win Game 3.

 

Miami will enter Game 3 with an anticipated higher confidence. The fact that Tim Duncan didn’t play a minute of the 4th quarter and the rest of the Spurs starters hit the bench with 7:43 remaining in the game could have done nothing but dampen the confidence level of San Antonio.

 

Hope is not lost, though, for Spurs fans. The best coach in the NBA is at the helm of the Spurs in Gregg Popovich and, as many coaches will agree, it is easier to make adjustments and thus improve after a loss than a win. Popovich will have a big task in front of him as turnovers were the Spurs downfall and forcing turnovers the Heat’s biggest strength. If the Miami Heat can continue to pressure the Spurs into turning the ball over with their stifling defense, the Spurs may have no chance at victory apart from stellar defense of their own and lights-out shooting from behind the arch.

 

Game 3 is also a must-win for the Spurs for the fact that Miami is 11-0 following a loss. If Miami wins Game 3 and follows their trend of no-back-to-back losses, the Spurs cannot make up the difference.

 

If San Antonio wins Game 3, and split Games 4 and 5 with the Heat, they force Miami’s back to the wall and force them to win Games 6 and 7, a feat that is not impossible by any stretch but certainly daunting.

 

If Miami wins two of the three games in San Antonio, you can all but kiss the Spurs’ chances at a fifth title goodbye.

 

 

 

***  Historical Tidbits  ***

 

In all four of the Spurs’ prior championship victories, they had home court advantage in the best-of-seven series.

 

Only once have the Spurs split the first two games 1-1 in the Finals – against the Nets in 2003. Spurs won in 6.

 

Miami’s “Big 3” is 8-3 in Game 3’s

In the last seven Finals series when started 1-1, the team that won the next best-of-three-games series won the title six  times.

 

 

 

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There seems to be two top dogs remaining in the NBA playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat.

English: Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11

English: Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Spurs have been on a tear lately, going 20-0 in their last 20 games. These 20 victories include series sweeps over the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers as well as convincing victories in Games 1 & 2 of their Western Conference series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Miami Heat have also completed Game 1 & 2 of their conference finals series with the Boston Celtics.

Both Eastern and Western Conference Finals series head back to the lower-seeded teams’ home courts for Games 3 and 4 in Boston and Oklahoma City, respectively.

Ah, all of a sudden, the task doesn’t seem so easy for the favorite Spurs and Heat.

The Thunder fans are real hyped fans. What would you expect from a state whose entire population is currently stir crazy waiting for college football to start? Seriously, what else is there? (See also Jazz fans).

Both the Spurs and Heat have had to overcome being behind late in a game and overcoming deficit to earn the win. Alternately, they have each cruised for a dominant victory.

Spectacular as each team is, the Heat and Spurs both have chinks in the armor that have been exposed at one point or another in these playoffs.

For the Heat, interior play has been absolutely key. With the injury suffered by Chris Bosh early in the second round against the Indiana Pacers, the Heat’s defense against the low post and rebounding has been a cause for concern. The Pacers were able to take advantage of the deficiency in Games 2 and 3 of that series and earned W’s against the favored Heat. Of course, Dwyane Wade‘s struggles to score were no small factor either.

LeBron James has produced consistently the entire postseason, averaging 29.6 points/9.2 rebounds/5.8 assists per game. Dwyane Wade more than any other Heat player determines the outcome of the game. When he plays well, he compliments LeBron’s contributions and victory is imminent. When Wade plays poorly, LeBron finds himself in the same scenario as rookie Michael Jordan, scoring 63 points against the Celtics in 2 OT in a losing effort.

The Spurs are the epitome of “team basketball.” Their crisp passing and intelligent play has been frustrating the last 20 teams San Antonio has faced.

Tony Parker, who is averaging 20.5 points/3.8 rebounds/7.1 assists per game in the Spurs’ “sweep-fest” is clearly the most valuable Spur at this point. He and Tim Duncan are the strongest contributors on the team with great production out of Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and others. It appears the only thing that can stop the Spurs is either father time as the games move forward, or the offense missing jumpers and letting the opposition go on the fast break.

The Thunder and Celtics both have their backs to the wall and will look to defend their home courts in order to steal one on the road. You can bet if the Spurs or Heat can get just one win on the road over the next two games, it’ll be a Spurs/Heat finals.

Miami Heat

Image by Keith Allison via Flickr

Well, it’s happening a lot sooner than I had anticipated.

The national media circuits are beginning to pay positive attention to the Miami Heat. Note: I said Miami Heat, not LeBron James.

ESPN created a monster in producing and airing “The Decision,” the hour-long special in which LeBron James revealed he would be leaving Cleveland after 6 years with no rings.

The weeks leading up to “The Decision” were filled with shameless advertising and hype. News segments were mere rumors and speculation. In one day, LeBron would start out leaning towards New York, by noon it was Chicago or New Jersey, and by the time the actual day came around, most everyone already knew LeBron was going to leave to go to Miami.

All signs pointed to him leaving!

And the Cleveland fans knew it because the media knew it (more or less). Therefore, you saw the Cavs fans making pleas, literally begging LeBron not to go.

All I’m saying is, James’ decision did not shock anyone.

What did shock me was how quickly the media turned its back on its involvement in the whole “Decision” debacle. Sports T.V. shows, sports talk radio hosts, and the overall sports community spent easily the entirety of the next week speaking of nothing besides the Miami Heat and specifically LeBron James.

They gaged the country’s opinion on “The Decision” and when they found it to be overwhelmingly negative, they washed their hands of LeBron, painted a picture of a villainous fiend, and tossed him under the bus.

The regular season talk was focused on different players throughout the year but one theme rang true loudly: The national media have withheld spotlight from James as an individual when it applies to praise for excellent play. Instead, they direct the praise to the Heat as a whole, or to Dwyane Wade.

This is not to say that LeBron is under the radar. The media are more than happy to talk about James’ shortcomings, missed opportunities, etc.

Now that the Heat have shown brightly the first round and beginning of the second round, the national media is catching on to something: This Miami Heat team is good. Very, very good.

In the sports news business, it’s all about being first to break news or being the first to predict the champion. When their horse goes down (i.e. Orlando Magic, San Antonio Spurs, etc) often times, the analysts or radio hosts will simply pick a new team he/she claims to have known all along would win it all.

As a lonely passenger at times on the LeBron bandwagon, it has been, at times, hilarious to watch these analysts pretend other players deserve the MVP, blowing losses out of proportion, and force-feeding the masses inflated and irrelevant stats to dismiss LeBron’s dominance.

I figured it would take more time before the same people who threw James under the bus would crawl back and play nice.

LeBron said way back when this whole media frenzy started getting vicious that he was going to keep track of the nay sayers.

I hope he unleashes on someone to be honest. I hope he throws down on a reporter who ripped James’ integrity during “The Decision” hot bed. I hope he calls one of these smile-fakers out, quoting the outrageous attacks on his leadership qualities, finishing capabilities or work ethic.

There won’t be much left to say when Miami’s “Big 3” are raising the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Winning in the NBA, when all is said and done, comes down to really only 2 things; match-ups and depth. I can prove it with a little formula I thought of for the All-Star game. To show a correlation between a team’s representation in the All-Star game and its place in the rankings, I’ve created a simple point system. 5 points per starter a team has and 3 points per reserve. The rankings worked out in this order.

East:

1. Miami Heat – 13 points (2 Starters: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, 1 Reserve: Chris Bosh)

2. Boston Celtics – 12 points (4 Reserves: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen)

3. Atlanta Hawks – 6 points (2 Reserves: Joe Johnson and Al Horford)

4. Chicago Bulls – 5 points (1 Starter: Derek Rose)

– Orlando Magic – 5 points (1 Starter: Dwight Howard)

– New York Knicks – 5 points (1 Starter: Amar’e Stoudemire)

West:

1. LA Lakers – 8 points (1 Starter: Kobe Bryant 1 Reserve: Pau Gasol)

– OK City Thunder – 8 points (1 Starter: Kevin Durant 1 Reserve: Russell Westbrook)

3. San Antonio Spurs – 6 points (2 Reserves: Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili)

4. New Orleans Hornets – 5 points (1 Starter: Chris Paul)

5. Denver Nuggets – 5 points (1 Starter: Carmello Anthony)

6. Dallas Mavericks – 3 points (1 Reserve: Dirk Nowitzki)

7. Utah Jazz – 3 points (1 Reserve: Deron Williams)

8. LA Clippers – 3 points (1 Reserve: Blake Griffin)

9. Minnesota Timerwolves – 3 points (1 Reserve: Kevin Love)

First, let’s look at the East. Aside from the fact that the Heat and Celtics are currently 2nd and 1st in the actual current standings, respectively, this point system loosely reflects the standings of the top 6 teams in the Eastern Conference standings to date.

The Western Conference is a little more spread out, talent-wise. The team with the conference’s worst record is even represented with a reserve player (Kevin Love). However, the point rings true as all 3 top teams in the conference, San Antonio, Dallas and Los Angeles are all represented by 2 All-Stars, while the remaining 6 All-Stars are lone team selections.

I’m sure this same formula could be applied when the Lakers were boasting both Kobe and Shaq as All-Star starters back when they were winning 3 titles in a row. Nothing has changed. Only the names and faces.