NBA 2014 Finals Preview
The rematch that we all wanted to see immediately following Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Finals has been set. On June 5th, the Spurs and the Heat are set to take the floor in the Finals for the second consecutive year. The last time the same two teams met in an NBA Final was back in 1997 & 1998 when the Chicago Bulls faced the Jazz back to back.
Ever since LeBron and Bosh made it known that they were taking their talents to South Beach, championships where the only goal on everyone's mind. Four years later they have delivered 4 straight NBA Finals appearances making them only the third team to reach the Finals four straight years. The other two teams that have reached the Finals four years in a row should come as no surprise: the Celtics and the Lakers.
The beasts of the East made it to the Finals this year in slightly different fashion compared to the last two years. With an easy first two rounds against the Bobcats and the Nets, the Heat matched up against their Eastern Conference rivals: the Pacers. However, with the Pacers as the top seed many thought that they could possibly get over the hump and defeat the Heat. Well that dream was short lived after game 1 as the Heat played to their strengths and the best player on the planet guided the Heat to the Finals.
It seems as though every year critics say that the Spurs are too old and can't compete with the speed and quickness of the young, new NBA talent. Well folks... I think that "old" worry has been put to rest as the Spurs not only are making their second straight Finals appearance (first in franchise history), but they also had the best overall record in the NBA this season.
In the postseason, the Spurs drew their cross-town rivals, the Mavericks, and it was not an easy task as the Mavs pulled off some impressive wins. However, the Spurs fundamentals and experience proved too much in Game 7. The Spurs made quick work of the young and inexperience Portland team to set up a 2012 rematch against the Thunder. Going up against the 2014 NBA MVP seemed like a breeze in games 1 and 2, but Serge Ibaka proved to be the Thunders spark as they even the series at 2 a piece. Yet, once again the depth and experience of the Spurs wore down the Thunder's defense helping the Spurs reach the finals again.
Key Match up to Watch:
Kawhi Leonard vs LeBron James
Kawhi Leonard stepped into the spotlight in last years Finals appearance and contained LeBron better than anyone in the NBA. With another year under his belt and more confidence on the offensive end of the floor, Leonard could be the most important player to the Spurs again this series. If Leonard can contain LeBron like he did last year in games 1,2 and 3 then the Spurs could reverse last years result. However, let's not forget that we are talking about LeBron James who is the best player on the planet.
Spurs - Tony Parker
Tony Parker typically wouldn't be considered the x-factor in any series, but with his left ankle flaring up again in game 6 against the Thunder his health becomes a huge x-factor. Last year, the Spurs had a healthy Tony Parker, and he delivered in a big way playing like the Finals MVP for most of that series. However, with a less than 100% Tony Parker the Spurs could have a tough task overcoming the two-time defending champs.
Heat - Bench Production
The Spurs have the best scoring bench in the NBA this season where as the Heat have the 21st highest scoring bench in the NBA. The Big 3 will get there points one way or another, but if the Heat bench can make an immediate impact on the series in game 1 then this could be three-peat in the making. Norris Cole has been huge for the Heat in the postseason and maybe Ray Allen has another miracle shot in him...
This series is so close and could come to a few plays down the stretch that dictate who is the NBA Champions, but I think The Big Fundamental gets the last laugh lifting the Spurs to their 5th championship. It would the icy on the cake for Duncan and Popvich's careers to beat the Heat and have redemption on the heart breaking lose last season. Spurs in 7