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The Daily Guide - Waynesville, MO
  • NBA Finals Preview: Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs

  • Old-school veterans versus new-school athletes. At least that's what the Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals looks like at first glance.
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  • Old-school veterans versus new-school athletes. At least that's what the Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals looks like at first glance.
    The original Big Three consisted of Spurs forward Tim Duncan and guards Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. During the franchise's unforgettable seasons from 1998 to now, the team has been crowned NBA Champions four times in that span (1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007). Of those four titles, Duncan was named the series' MVP three times and Parker once.
    Despite little recognition, in the team's previous three championships, Ginobili has tallied a combined average of nearly 16 points per game in the playoffs – a nice contribution for a primarily bench player.
    The trio averaged 49.9 points per game in 2013, accounting for nearly half of the Spurs' 103 PPG average.
    The Spurs, however, will match up with the Heat's modern big three: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
    As dominant as Miami was in the regular season – the team finished 66-16 – the Heat have somewhat fizzled in the playoffs. Led by James' 26.2 playoff PPG, the Heat, who won 27 consecutive games in the regular season, dropped three games to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals before winning in Game 7, 99-76.
    During the series, Bosh and Wade combined to score a mere 24.6 PPG, 13 points worse than in the regular season. However, Wade and Bosh accounted for 30 points in what looked like a return to their regular season performances in the series clincher.
    LeBron James vs. Who?
    Throughout the playoffs, LeBron James has presented matchup problems with each team he's faced. His 6-foot-8, 250-pound frame is small enough to navigate in the backcourt, but powerful enough to take on forwards in the paint. His freakish athletic ability is the kicker. Which San Antonio Spur will receive the luxury of pinning James down during the NBA Finals? Either way, James has the tools to counterbalance his opponent's strengths and make an impact on every possession.
    Tim Duncan vs. Chris Bosh
    These 6-foor-11 monsters have been less crash and more finesse throughout their careers. The pick-and-pop style of Duncan will rival Bosh's spot-up shooting ability. Both will vie for paint space, but look for Duncan to gain a rebounding edge with the help of teammate Tiago Splitter in the paint. Also consider that Bosh shot only 38 percent from the field in seven games against Indiana.
    X-Factor
    Each team has that certain someone that provides a spark at just the right time. For Miami it's been Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem, Chris Anderson and Mike Miller. But, in the Finals, expect the quiet Shane Battier to emerge from the depths and provide meaningful minutes. A year ago Battier contributed only seven PPG in the playoffs, but in Game 2 of the 2012 NBA Finals, he netted 17 points; he's capable. Where he'll really factor in is on defense against the Spurs' smaller forwards or against the Spurs' sixth man, Ginobili.
    Page 2 of 2 - For San Antonio, there can only be one true X-factor: Manu Ginobili. When he's on, so are the Spurs. He can shoot, pass, defend and talk with the best of them, but where he sticks out is in decision making. Ginobili shoots 45 percent career shooter. The guard also tallied 274 assists and 80 steals in 2013 to rank among the top of the league. Watch out for Ginobili to succeed against Miami's guards using dribble-drive penetration.
    Prediction:
    The Spurs have been there, but the Heat won it all just a year ago. Recent success trumps history, so expect Miami to win in six games at San Antonio in what will be the perfect parting gift to retiring NBA Commissioner David Stern.

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