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. And-1 Links: League Pass alert — Ben McLemore is the new Pizza Guy

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:34 PM EDT

    Isaiah Thomas pizza guy

    Nick Young’s girlfriend Iggy Azalea is better at trick shots than you.

  2. Report: Dirk Nowitzki to play in EuroBasket 2015, which is 2016 Olympics qualifier

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Mark Cuban, Dirk Nowitzki Getty Images

    Germany qualifying for the Olympics, even with Nowitzki, is an uphill battle.

  3. Tim Duncan to appear in “The Punisher” comic book

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT

    Tim Duncan Punisher

    Guaranteed Duncan likes this better than another trip to the All-Star Game.

  4. Bulls officially sign E’Twaun Moore, he’s likely to stick with team

    Sep 16, 2014, 5:20 PM EDT

    Mason Plumlee, E'Twaun Moore Mason Plumlee, E'Twaun Moore

    Half his salary the first year is guaranteed, a sign he is expected to make the final roster.

  5. Report: Glenn Robinson III signs guaranteed deal with Timberwolves

    Sep 16, 2014, 4:19 PM EDT

    Zach LaVine and Glen Robinson III of the Minnesota Timberwolves Portraits

    The guaranteed deal is huge but the Wolves are deep at the three. He’ll struggle to get minutes.

  6. Kings retiring Peja Stojakovic’s number

    Sep 16, 2014, 2:33 PM EDT

    Peja Stojakovic Peja Stojakovic

    Stojakovic’s 3-point bombing made Sacramento better for quite some time

  7. Andrei Kirilenko wants Lionel Hollins to play him more than Jason Kidd did

    Sep 16, 2014, 1:50 PM EDT

    Andrei Kirilenko Andrei Kirilenko

    Kirilenko played by far career-low 19 minutes per game last season

  8. 67RIEFNS No. 4: Andrew Wiggins vs. Jabari Parker

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins

    No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the NBA draft square off against each other, expectations

  9. Steve Clifford sees Marvin Williams as primarily stretch four with Hornets

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Josh McRoberts, Marvin Williams Josh McRoberts, Marvin Williams

    Williams, who plays both forward positions, now favorite to replace Josh McRoberts in starting lineup

  10. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: New York Knicks

    Sep 16, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Derek Fisher Derek Fisher

    Plenty of changes, but enough to make the playoffs?

  11. Report: Spurs open to signing-and-trading Aron Baynes

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Patty Mills Foot Locker In Store Appearance Getty Images

    San Antonio already has 17 players, qualifying offer out to Baynes

  12. Klay Thompson’s agent: Thompson better two-way shooting guard than Kobe Bryant

    Sep 16, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

    Bill Duffy: ‘Klay Thompson right now is the top two-way, two-guard in basketball’

  13. Deron Williams says after surgery his ankles feel the best they have in years

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Deron Williams AP

    Deron Williams opening the season healthy would be huge… but just the start of what they need from him.

  14. Clippers sign Australian forward Joe Ingles

    Sep 16, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    BASKET-EURL-BARCELONA-PANATHINAIKOS BASKET-EURL-BARCELONA-PANATHINAIKOS

    Ingles excelled in World Cup, completes dominoes set in motion by Jared Dudley trade

  15. Serbia holds impassioned celebration for World Cup silver medal

    Sep 16, 2014, 12:30 AM EDT

    2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - Day Fourteen Getty Images

    You won’t see this for the Americans’ gold medal

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3385)
  2. D. Ferry (2897)
  3. L. James (2737)
  4. J. Valanciunas (2510)
  5. K. Irving (2413)
  1. K. Bryant (2384)
  2. P. George (2125)
  3. C. Anthony (1779)
  4. G. Monroe (1756)
  5. R. Allen (1732)