The Indiana Pacers showed surprising grit in winning game, frustrating the Miami Heat with their own brand of ‘ugly’ ball and extending the series to at least six games. Meanwhile out west, the veteran San Antonio Spurs are cooling off and gathering energy for one last run at the coveted gold. The Spurs are hoping that the Pacers continues to extend the Heat so that they can enter a finals well rested. Every day of rest for the Spurs is beneficial and we have seen the team make the most out of these types of breaks in the past. Everyday of rest for the Spurs will help make the line at the sport books that much tighter.
Perhaps it is a bit premature to write off the Pacers, but I am going to anyway, since when all is said and done Miami has been a lock for the finals throughout the season. If the Pacers win, look for apologetic blogs later, but for now, the finals really looks like it will be Heat-Spurs, with the Heat installed as the favorite and enjoying both home court advantage for the seven game series.
For Miami it is a worse case scenario – playing an experienced, well coached team that won’t try to match athleticism with them. Teams like the Thunder, or even the Lakers if things had been different this season, are tailor made for Miami. Matching athleticism with Miami is a tough call, but a team like Dallas two years ago was able to outplay them using fundamental basketball.
Miami has improved a great deal, but then this Spurs team is far superior to the Dallas team that beat the Heat in the finals two ears ago.
The Spurs have a lot of ways they can beat you. They can grind out a tough win with the score in the 90′s. They can ride the hot hand of Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker, they can have coach Gregg Popovich steal one with his wizardry (Spoelstra deserves credit for survivng and coming into his own under a lot of pressure, but does anyone doubt that Pop is a better coach at this point?).
For their part, Miami can almost certainly count on James to will a win or two in the series by himself. One of the noticeable improvements in the King’s game is that he has carried the Heat to victories when the rest of the team was floundering.
But Bosh is Bosh, who remains a third option and might be a factor, but is just as likely to disappear. And Dwayne Wade is no longer on that other plane where he was from 2006-2010. Wade can still take over a game, but with the year he has had, he is just as likely to be matched by the Spurs 2 guard tandem of Ginobili and Danny Green.
It should be a fantastic series, one that is hard to call and could come in with lines that are pretty tight and may be even.