Skip to content

PBT NBA Finals preview: Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs (part deux)

Jun 2, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

SEASON RECORDS

San Antonio Spurs 62-20 (No. 1 seed in West)

Miami Heat 54-28 (No. 2 seed in East)

KEY INJURIES

San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker sprained his ankle in Game 4 against the Thunder and aggravated it in Game 5, by the second half of Game 6 Gregg Popovich shut him down. He says he wants and plans to play in Game 1 of the Finals, but how explosive he is, the Spurs need the Full Parker in this series.

Miami Heat: Nothing of note (Chris Andersen returned from his injury and with five days off should be good to go in Game 1).

OFFENSE/DEFENSE RANKINGS IN PLAYOFFS (points per 100 possession)

San Antonio Spurs: Offense 111.2 (second in playoffs); Defense 101 (second we in playoffs)

Miami Heat: Offense 113.7 (first in playoffs); Defense 102.8 (fifth in playoffs)

THREE KEYS TO THE SERIES

1. Miami will go small, can the Spurs adjust? Last year in the Finals Miami had much more success with it’s small lineups, putting in three point shooters in to get enough floor spacing (remember they started Mike Miller). As we saw against the Thunder, it is likely Gregg Popovich has to match that by not playing Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan together (even though the Spurs defense is much better when they are paired), and we can expect to see a heavy dose of Boris Diaw (which allows the Spurs to “go small” without really going all that small). Miami’s real weapon here is Dwyane Wade — his knees did not let him perform up to a high level last Finals, this season Eric Spoelstra had him on a knee maintenance program of rest all season long and it has paid off. Vintage Wade, even in just four or five games, would be a big boost for Miami.

2. Spurs ball movement vs. Heat pressure defense. Miami’s defense is all about using their athleticism to force turnovers and pressure teams into poor decisions, which then become transition points for the Heat going to other way. No team is better suited to counter this than the Spurs with their ball movement — but they struggled at points against Oklahoma City when the Thunder cranked up the athleticism and defense pressure. The Spurs need to be more consistent this series.

Two key things to watch when the Spurs are on offense. First, how does Manu Ginobili handle the pressure (especially if he gets more time as the defacto point guard with Parker having a bum ankle)? Last Finals he struggled, he was out of control and missed some big plays, and it cost the Spurs. San Antonio needs the Ginobili from the last series to show up.

Second, how does Chris Bosh work on the pick-and-roll? San Antonio will drag him out to be the big defending in that situation and he has to contain Parker, Ginobili and the rest of them and not let them get into the paint. Once there and with the Spurs ball movement even the athletic Heat can’t rotate fast enough to stop a clean-look shot.

3. Kawhi Leonard on LeBron James. Last series for six games Kawhi Leonard went under picks and gave LeBron the jump shot, and LeBron took the bait. He hit a decent number of them at times, but he was passive. Game 7 was different, LeBron consistently still attacked in that situation. It’s not just Leonard on LeBron for the Spurs — he is a team-wide focus — but the same defensive principles will be in place. If LeBron is attacking and getting inside the Heat will be effective and efficient on offense, if he is settling for jumpers the Spurs win. LeBron’s going to get his, Leonard just has to make that happen from the outside, he has to make LeBron work for his buckets. Pretty much the exact same rules apply to Dwyane Wade.

PREDICTIONS (from the PBT staff)

Kurt Helin: San Antonio is a better team than they were a year ago, Miami is not playing as well as last year’s version. Plus, the Spurs have been forced to raise their level of execution to a much higher place just to get to the Finals (Miami was not nearly tested the same way). I would take the Spurs in 5 if not for two words: LeBron James. Even so, Spurs in 7.

Brett Pollakoff: The Heat have the game’s best player in LeBron James, and picking against him at this stage of his career implies at least a certain amount of foolishness. With that being said, the way the Spurs used an entire team effort to close out the Thunder on the road reminds us that Gregg Popovich’s system might simply be destined to out-execute the defending champs in a rematch of last year’s epic seven-game series. Spurs in 7.

Dan Feldman. Spurs in 7. San Antonio is slightly better and Miami slightly worse than last season, when the Heat won the series by a razor-thin margin. Honestly, I’m leery about picking against LeBron and hardly confident in my pick. This one could really go either way.

Latest Posts
  1. Warriors don’t live by 3, die by 3. They live by defense, live by defense

    May 24, 2015, 12:57 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Three Getty Images

    There’s seemingly no solving Golden State’s dominant defense

  2. Stephen Curry drops 40, Warriors rout Rockets by 35 to take 3-0 series lead

    May 24, 2015, 12:07 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Three Getty Images

    Houston has played well and valiantly this postseason, but the Warriors are simply better.

  3. Raptors’ Terrence Ross undergoes ankle surgery

    May 23, 2015, 7:30 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors vs Chicago Bulls Getty Images

    Ross, and the Raptors, had a disappointing season.

  4. Legendary Harlem Globetrotter dribbler, Hall of Famer Marques Haynes passes away at 89

    May 23, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT

    HAYNES AP

    He certainly is one of the greatest ball handlers of all time.

  5. Hawks Kyle Korver out for remainder of playoffs with high ankle sprain

    May 23, 2015, 3:16 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two Getty Images

    I’d say this puts the Hawks in a difficult spot, but they already were in one.

  6. Report: Scott Skiles in lead to become next Orlando coach

    May 23, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    150523_skiles Getty Images

    The popular former Magic player would sell well to the fan base.

  7. Hawks’ Kyle Korver leaves Game 2 with ankle sprain, does not return (VIDEO)

    May 23, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Two Getty Images

    Atlanta is already down 2-0 to Cleveland in the series, and if Korver misses any time, the Hawks are finished.

  8. Report: Jeff Van Gundy candidate for Pelicans’ coaching job

    May 23, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Game One Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Eastern Conference Finals Game One Getty Images

    He would bring a defensive mindset that he team could use.

  9. Cavs’ improved defense deserves credit for commanding 2-0 Eastern Conference Finals lead

    May 23, 2015, 12:25 AM EDT

    Timofey Mozgov Timofey Mozgov

    Cleveland shut down Atlanta’s offense in a dominant Game 2 performance.

  10. No Kyrie Irving, no problem: Cavaliers cruise to blowout Game 2 win over Hawks

    May 22, 2015, 11:16 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    LeBron was great, and that was enough against a Hawks team that keeps losing guys due to injury.

  11. James Harden was ‘kicking chairs’ after Rockets’ Game 2 loss to Warriors

    May 22, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Two Getty Images

    There’s also video of Harden doing some damage in the tunnel on the way to the locker room.

  12. Pero Antic commits flagrant foul on LeBron James (VIDEO)

    May 22, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One Getty Images

    Ruled a flagrant, which was probably the correct call under the circumstances.

  13. Lakers not planning on trading the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft

    May 22, 2015, 8:30 PM EDT

    Mitch Kupchak AP

    GM Mitch Kupchak: “It looks as though we’ll use our pick this year.”

  14. Kyrie Irving out for Game 2 vs. Hawks

    May 22, 2015, 7:38 PM EDT

    Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Irving is dealing with a knee injury.

  15. Kobe Bryant tries to explain Stephen Curry with a riddle

    May 22, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Golden State Warriors Getty Images

    Explaining Stephen Curry’s game is just not that easy.

Featured video

Will Klay Thompson get a little help on James Harden?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Irving (6040)
  2. K. Love (5252)
  3. D. Howard (4916)
  4. P. Beverley (4233)
  5. S. Curry (4037)
  1. D. Carroll (3800)
  2. L. James (3780)
  3. M. Speights (3492)
  4. K. Bryant (3456)
  5. K. Durant (3447)