LeBron James faced San Antonio in the NBA Finals back in 2007, and his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept easily by the Spurs. James was 21 then but now he is 28 with a number of honors under his belt, not to mention, an NBA championship. And – without question – he is the best player on the planet.
He leads Miami into their third straight NBA Finals, looking to avenge that loss to the Spurs and repeat as champs. They enter this matchup as the favorites in the series (-225 on the NBA odds) but real basketball fans know that you can never count out this veteran San Antonio team – a team that knows how to win. They’ll be up to the challenge of stopping James and his teammates.
NBA Finals: San Antonio Spurs vs Miami Heat
Odds: Heat -225
Why San Antonio Will Win
The Spurs are 12-2 so far in the playoffs, having swept two series and they’ve been off since May 27th, when they ended Memphis’ season after four games. Tony Parker has been fantastic, averaging 23.0 points and 7.2 assists, and he’ll have the upper hand against any of Miami’s point guards; it wouldn’t be a surprise to see James guarding Parker at some point. Tim Duncan is rolling back the years, putting up 17.8 points and 9.2 boards, and you could definitely argue that he has the edge over Chris Bosh, although the Heat will also run Chris Andersen at Duncan as well.
But the biggest edge could come on the bench in two aspects. San Antonio’s bench is more consistent than Miami’s, even with a limping Manu Ginobili. Then there is Gregg Popovich, who many feel is the best coach of this generation (that includes Phil Jackson and his 11 rings) and he keeps getting better. His matchup with Miami counterpart Erik Spoelstra could swing the series.
Why Miami Will Win
However, the Heat have the best player in the series in James, who is averaging 26.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists and more importantly, he has learned when to turn it on and when to defer. In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, James got Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh involved in the game before taking over and leading the Heat to a blowout of their rivals in what had become a very tight series. He has complete control of his game and James, like Popovich, seems to get better as he goes on.
But Miami learned that they can’t win a series with James alone, and they’ll need Wade and Bosh to support the four-time MVP because San Antonio is far too good to let one man beat them. The Heat have to control Parker somehow or else he will tear them apart. They also have to hit the boards and shore up their interior defense because Duncan is still capable of putting up 20-10 nights and that would be awful for Miami’s chances.
This will be a highly fascinating series and even though the books are giving Miami a marked advantage, San Antonio is more than capable of pulling off the “upset”.
The Spurs are not the defensive juggernauts of old. Nowadays, they run. It’s hard to see the Spurs outrunning a Miami team that loves to run themselves. On top of that, the Heat are coming off a series where their opponent pounded them inside and played a strong brand of defense. The Spurs aren’t as strong inside and their defense – particularly at the rim – is not as good.
The Spurs had a lot of trouble with the Golden State Warriors on the perimeter. Look for that to rear its head again in this series and the Heat to look much stronger in the Finals than they did in the last basketball betting round.
Pick: Heat in 6