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Five Keys in Miami Heat vs San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals Series

Five Keys in Miami Heat vs San Antonio Spurs NBA Finals Series

Jun 4, 2013

The Miami Heat finally booked their place in the NBA Finals with a confident win in Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. The San Antonio Spurs booked their place in the finals nearly one week earlier when they completed a sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies.

The match-ups pits the NBA’s two ‘big threes’ against one another. The Heat’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are now making their third straight NBA finals appearances. They were brushed aside by a tough Dallas Mavericks two seasons ago, they then beat up on a younger Oklahoma City Thunder last year. They won the 2012 finals in five games and will surely expect a tougher match-up this time around.

The Spurs are in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were a part of that success, which was the fourth title in the space of nine seasons. They’ve finished at least third in four of the past five seasons and have reached the conference finals twice. Finally, center Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich have the opportunity to win a fifth NBA ring.

There’s some history to this as well. LeBron James’ first trip to the NBA Finals resulted in an annihilation style sweep at the hands of Popovich and the Spurs. James has the opportunity to exorcise some demons in this match-up.

Here are five key factors to this series:

1. Perimeter Shooting

The Spurs have been shooting as well from three-point range over the last two rounds of the postseason as this team has done at all in recent history. San Antonio shredded Memphis’ highly-vaunted defense thanks to the plethora of three-point options. Regular go-to scorer Ginobili struggled, but Parker hit some big three-point shots and the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Gary Neal and even Matt Bonner knocked down lots of shots.

The Heat haven’t received that sort of play from their important shooters. Chris Bosh’s mid-range shot disappeared against Indiana. They also need a lot more from their perimeter scorers, notably Ray Allen and Shane Battier who were both ice cold and disappointing against the Pacers.

2. Can San Antonio Cause Miami Problems Inside?

The Spurs have some good front court players, notably Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter. However, they don’t have the brutality and physicality of David West, Roy Hibbert and Paul George. It is going to be harder for San Antonio to own the inside in the same way as the Pacers did. If Miami gets other elements of its game in shape, then that could make this series a better match-up for the Heat.

3. Which Big Three Will Emerge?

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh really struggled against the Pacers often making it seem more like James’ team and his team alone. That will be a problem if it is the case again against San Antonio. LeBron needs support from Wade and Bosh. Wade brought some of that support in the critical Game 7 against Indiana. It will become even more important against Popovich and this balanced Spurs line-up.

Meanwhile, Ginobili has struggled to be the impact scorer that supports Duncan and Parker. The experienced tandem were enough through two rounds, but ‘Manu’ could be a pivotal factor if this team is going to be bring another championship back to San Antonio.

4. Gregg Popovich

Any conversation about the best head coach in the NBA has to include Gregg Popovich. He has demonstrated his credentials pretty well through these playoffs so far. Against the Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies he dissected those two teams and took away their strengths at both ends of the floor.

The long lay-off will have given Popovich plenty of opportunity to study Miami and he will have a plan. Few coaches are better at making in-game and in-series adjustments either. Erik Spoelstra has proven himself to be an extremely capable head coach. He will be extremely tested in this match-up.

5. Ray Allen

Allen was the biggest addition to this roster after the 2012 championship triumph. He was expected to provide the team with scoring thrust off the bench, provide depth and valuable experience when it came to the postseason.

Allen went three for five from 3-point range in Game 7, but has struggled mightily during this year’s playoffs. He averaged just 8.8 points per game against the Chicago Bulls and finished the series against Indiana averaging just 7.1 points per game.

In 2012, the Thunder knocked out the Spurs thanks in large part to some fantastic shooting from sixth man of the year James Harden. Allen has the potential to make a similar kind of impact as a bench scorer in this series.


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