The NBA Finals are set and I can’t wait. Despite Lance Stephenson‘s best efforts, the Pacers blew the series (see what I did there?) and the Heat rolled to their fourth straight title series. The Spurs and Thunder played a bizarre series out West in which the home team completely dominated the first five games until last night’s overtime thriller that sent the Spurs back to the Finals for a second consecutive season.
If you have been following my blog, you know I have no problem admitting that I have become a bandwagon Spurs fan. I don’t live and die with them by any means, but I really like and respect what they represent: my era of NBA basketball. Gregg Popovich coaches this squad as one cohesive unit and they are the last great TEAM in the NBA. They resemble the Los Angeles Lakers of the 80s with less of the pizazz but are their equals in their longevity of dominance. They are modeled like the Larry Bird-led Boston Celtics that had three perennial all-stars and a bunch of role players that were no less important to the Celts decade’s reign. I don’t think Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili would have the same success alone in a different system. Together, alongside Tim Duncan, they have become the most unheralded dynasty in all of sports.
So, yes, I am biased, but I think this Spurs team does what any good air conditioning unit does: beats the Heat. Not many people expected the San Antonio Spurs to bounce back and have the season they had, leading the NBA with the best record at 62-20 and returning to another Finals. And that’s why Wayniac Nation has the Spurs ending the Heat’s run in six games. When Pat Riley coined the term Threepeat, his hair was a little darker, a little slicker, and he was the central voice of The Showtime Lake Show. The East Coast isn’t ready for a three peat, and the Spurs will squash any one who thinks otherwise.
THREE REASONS SPURS WIN THE NBA FINALS IN SIX GAMES
3. Revenge is bittersweet.
If you don’t think the Spurs remember that shot, you also most likely think Donald Sterling is a saint. Everyone remembers the fact that the Heat have won back-to-back championships, but no remembers that the Spurs had this series in six games last year. Ray Allen‘s last second heroics turned the tables and gave the Heat the momentum in Game 7 at home. The Spurs had control throughout the entire series, either having the advantage or being tied in the games played and never trailing the series until the buzzer of Game 7. That shot will stick with them throughout this series and serve as a reminder that the Heat got lucky last year. Coach Pop won the NBA Coach of the Year for a reason. His team is simply too disciplined to lose a second seven game series to the same team.
The NBA Finals are airing on ABC which is part of the ESPN family. That means we are going to be force fed the The Original Big Three versus The New Big Three storyline until we throw up all over ourselves. There is, however, no denying that the Big Threes will be the focal point of the series. San Antonio possesses three guys in Ginobili, Parker, and Duncan that are aged veterans of battle together. They have been down this road many times before and finally lost their first one last season in their four trips together. Duncan is arguably the best power forward to ever play the game, you can argue that Parker is the best court general since John Stockton, and very few are as clutch with a big shot as Ginobili.
On the other side, the Heat possess the best player in the NBA. Queen James flies like Jordan and dominates like Shaq. LeBron James is simply a beast and to deny his greatness is to declare yourself an idiot. Dwyane Wade is making a case to be one of the best wingman of all time and when fully healthy can still slash the lane like no one else. Chris Bosh is one of the most perplexing players in recent NBA history. He could come out and give you a Hall of Fame-esque performance like Dennis Rodman would to James and Wades’ Jordan and Pippen. Or, he can come out and lay a total dud and give you a Shawn Bradley type of night.
Even if you know nothing about basketball, you know these six household names. What this series comes down to is depth, and the Spurs are a more balanced team. The Heat have Ray Allen and everyone else is questionable at best. The Heat scored a tad above 102 points per game this season and James, Wade, and Bosh were responsible for 62 of those per night. The Spurs defense is notorious for taking away a team’s best player. If they can do that to the Heat’s Big Three, who will step up? Can The Birdman be counted on for a huge series? Is Mario Chalmers really ready to step up and be a leader should Parker shut down Wade, or is he there more to facilitate the offense?
The Spurs on the other hand, scored more points per game at 105.4 a night. Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili were only responsible for 44 of those on a nightly basis. Whereas the Heat had no one else on the team average double digit points this season, the Spurs had six total players average above ten points per game on the season. Kawhi Leonard seems to improve his game nightly and Danny Green is this teams EIGHTH leading scorer. The Spurs have eight to nine guys on this team who could step up on any night. Will they put up Tim Duncan numbers? By no means am I suggesting that. Someone like Danny Green, however, can step in to the Spurs’ team first system, replace Ginobili any day of the week, and then still have the Spurs in a position to win. Tiago Splitter can step up for Leonard if need be and the Spurs can still win. The Spurs are interchangeable parts in one big cog. Could you imagine if Norris Cole had to step in for Dwyane Wade against San Antonio’s defense? Game, set, match and Allen Fuller would owe me another two dollars.
1. Tim Duncan.
Tim Duncan is 38 years old. Let me tell you folks, I am 39 years old and by the time I am done typing this, I am going to have a tough time standing up out of my chair. I don’t know how he continues to bang around the paint with these beasts that seemingly grow larger each season. But he does, and not only that, he continues to do it better than anyone else. That doesn’t mean his clock isn’t ticking, and sadly enough, Duncan’s days are numbered.
This is Duncan’s sixth trip in his illustrious Hall of Fame 17-year career. He hasn’t played in more than 75 games in the last three seasons. Duncan’s talent hasn’t diminished a lick, but his body is wearing down. Every NBA Finals could be his last.
The reason that a lot of people don’t want to admit Duncan is one of the greatest players to ever suit up in the NBA is because he is fundamentally sound. He doesn’t have a flashy signature dunk. He doesn’t have a nickname that eludes to his regal-ness like His Airness or King James. He doesn’t have a cute nickname for any of his moves like the Killer Crossover or the UTEP Two-Step. Duncan doesn’t bring attention to himself and it’s for one main reason… he doesn’t care about Duncan the player, he cares about the Spurs. You don’t buy into boring ol’ Coach Pop’s system for 17-years if you care about stuffing the box score.
That being said, all Duncan wants to do is win. The Spurs already have set just about every regular season win record that can be accomplished aside from eclipsing the Bulls 72-win season, so all that’s left is to win more rings. Duncan has seemed more focused in this season’s playoff run than last years. Is he hiding the fact that this may be his last NBA Championship run? Or has he simply come to the realization that he is in the twilight of his NBA career and wants to go out as the guy who dethroned the King and not the guy who became his biatch?
Whatever the answer is, it doesn’t really matter. Duncan is clearly resolved to win these NBA Finals. While LeBron has the star power and naturally ability to propel his team over the top by himself, Duncan has the uncanny ability to make all eleven of his cohorts look like NBA superstars when they step on the court next to him. In the end, that will be too much for the Heat to handle the second time around and the Spurs win at home in six. Duncan gets his fifth and most likely, last, ring.
Agree with me or do you think I’m an ignoramus for betting against King James and his Heat? Sound off down below and if you like what you have been reading, scroll up to the top left and give me and my bevy of guest writers a follow. Till next time, get ready for more OTAs, elite hoops, and California Chrome’s run at history.