Monday, June 2, 2014

Rematch? Anybody?

The Spurs and Heat will be playing again for the NBA Championship and it was a rematch that pretty much became inevitable after the Spurs figured out the Ibaka saga after game 5 and with how the Indiana Pacers had been playing the past 2 months. Both teams won in six games after they had both been predicted to compete in all seven games, they both left the party early with the prize.

This will be another legacy NBA Finals similar to last season except LeBron is looking for the Kobe/Jordan conversation to begin if he wins this title giving him a 3-peat. Similar to last year, if Tim Duncan wins this title he will also be in the Kobe conversation except it will be for who the most productive player has been this previous generation. Kobe will have 5 championships, Duncan will have 5 as well, the debate would last decades. LeBron is already in a class of his own with 4 straight Finals appearances, and even if he doesn't get it done, he'll be the renowned Beast of the East this decade. But, this will also be the third time LeBron plays the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. We all know what happened in 2007 when LeBron got swept, we all saw the best Finals since 2010 last year when the Heat won it in 7, LeBron is 1-1 versus the Spurs in the NBA Finals. This is the proverbial "rubber Finals" for him because if he can beat San Antonio 2 years in a row (the renowned best organization in sports this century) he'll be in his own class with this 3-peat, being able to stick it to the franchise in sports, beat them 2 out of 3 times, it will show that he truly is one of the greatest champions of all time.

How did the Spurs beat the Thunder in game 6? I'm still confused on this and hear me out. Boris Diaw had 26 points to lead the team in scoring, Tony Parker was out the entire second half of the game, the Spurs played in Oklahoma City, and Serge Ibaka was in the game. The only answer I can think of is the Thunder absolutely choked. I came into this playoffs saying that if the San Antonio Spurs faced off against the Thunder, the Spurs could maybe push the series to 6, but our chances would be slim. I'm aware that the Spurs had a bench advantage, but the impact of Ibaka, the athleticism of Westbrook, and the MVP would just be too much at least for our starting unit. Let's be honest Oklahoma City, you guys let this one slip away. You were the better team and you choked this series away and don't tell me it's because of the greatness of San Antonio. You have youth, you have way more athleticism and considering our most talented athletic player was out the entire 2nd half in your building? Zero excuses, you let it get away. I am stunned as a Spurs fan we made it past them, but that should go to show you how talented this team really is and how good the moves Popovich made in games 5 and 6 were to adjust for the great impact of Serge Ibaka. You gotta give some serious credit toward Boris Diaw too, especially how he responded since the 4th quarter of the game 4 blowout. The guy was clearly the MVP of the Western Conference Finals for his ability to spread out the Oklahoma City big men with his outside presence and make it easier for the Big 3 to get to where thy wanted to go. He found switches in the defense to get productive minutes for the rest of the team and he made plays to forced Oklahoma City to play to Spurs completely different then they ever had and the Thunder just were not ready. Either way, the Thunder should have been more prepared, they truly were the more talented team.

The Indiana Pacers did exactly what they have done since mid-March, they choked away their season. The Heat weren't that much better than Indiana, in fact, you could say that the Heat were less talented and that their capabilities to hang would have needed a super man like effort to keep it close... they didn't even need that. Indiana shot themselves in the foot with their ability to run a fluid game plan against the likes of LeBron James and company and they could barely get through 3rd quarters in the Eastern Conference Finals without being down double digits consistently. This was one of the most droll Eastern Conference Finals I can remember. Even last years Eastern Conference Finals was more entertaining and they were the same teams. It should go to show you that maybe change needs to start happening in Indiana or that trading away a guy like Danny Granger wasn't necessarily the best option for this team over midway through the year. This is Miami's 4th trip to the finals in a row and it's the 4th one for this trio of superstars in Chris Bosh, D'wayne Wade, and LeBron James. It's quite possibly one of the greatest runs by a group of three players in that short of a time ever. The only real question now is, how long will it last? Because nobody is challenging this team if they stay together for the next couple years.

I guess I have to make a prediction since this is my only blog of the week but this year I see it much different than last year, in fact, I give the Heat less of a chance this year than I gave the Spurs last year. I think the Spurs have figured out how to beat good teams now especially with how they adjusted to Oklahoma City in the last two games of the Western Conference Finals. I said the Heat would win last year in 6 games over San Antonio before the playoffs even started and I still felt that way before the finals began. But, this year, seeing how much more improved players like Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, and Leonard have performed this year and with how much more solidified the Spurs are as a unit by being able to adjust on the fly and still play at a collective level of superiority, I have to pick the Spurs to win the title especially now that they have home court in the Finals. I think it will go 7 games again, but I would honestly not be shocked if the Spurs won it in 5 games as well. This team is way too good this year, and with how close they were last year and how much more competitive they were with the Heat in last years title than what I was expecting, they will come out on top this year strictly because of their improved players and better bench.

Prediction: San Antonio in 7 

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