2013 NBA Finals Preview and Schedule: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat

2013 NBA Finals
2013 NBA Finals
Jun 06 2012 Oklahoma City OK USA San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan 21 and point guard Tony Parker 9 chat during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in game six of the Western Conference finals of the 2012 NBA playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena Kevin Jairaj USA TODAY Sports

The marquee rumble we’ve all been waiting for is here: new dynasty hopefuls, the Miami Heat, will be taking on a dynasty that isn’t yet ready to close its window of dominance in the Spurs. Both teams run as deep as their roster moves. In the Heat’s case, they were formed as if by the flashy roll of dice, while the Spurs devised a methodical system of counting cards that has proven utterly effective. But the difference in origin stories says little about their current state of affairs.

Both have equal shots at the chip and will use contrasting systems that have been crafted with the precision of a bottle sailboat artist to further their legacy. It would be No. 3 overall, No. 2 of this dynasty for Miami. No. 5 overall, and No.5 of this dynasty for San Antonio.

Popovich vs. Spoelstra. Timmy vs. LeBron. Pat Riley vs. The World. It all comes down to this.


San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Miami Heat (1)


Game 1 – Thus Jun 6, San Antonio at Miami, 9:00 p.m., ABC

Game 2 – Sun Jun 9, San Antonio at Miami, 8:00 p.m., ABC

Game 3 – Tue Jun 11, Miami at San Antonio, 9:00 p.m., ABC

Game 4 – Thu Jun 13, Miami at San Antonio, 9:00 p.m., ABC

Game 5 – Sun Jun 16, Miami at San Antonio, 8:00 p.m., ABC (if necessary)

Game 6 – Tue Jun 18, San Antonio at Miami, 9:00 p.m., ABC (if necessary)

Game 7  – Thu Jun 20, San Antonio at Miami, 9:00 p.m., ABC (if necessary)

The two teams played hooky this season whenever they played each other. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili “rested” in the first game of the regular season series while LeBron and Wade sat out in the second. In both instances, Miami won.

But the two teams look like markedly different units since the regular season, with the Heat lagging considerably since then. Their 12-4 mark up to this point is far from the perfect demolition of opponents projected for them by analysts. By contrast, the Spurs have a better record of 12-2.

The Heat are, at present, the more athletic and talented team. They can shoot the ball well, penetrate the best defenses from a variety of angles, and are a tenacious defensive group. But their weaknesses have been far more exploited in the postseason than San Antonio’s.

Unlike San Antonio, who was able to stop the early bleeding caused by Golden State’s bionic shooting, Miami had a hard time containing the Pacers. Though they beat the Chicago Bulls 4-1, there were instances in that series too where Miami’s usually airtight defense looked deflated. Against the Spurs’ second-ranked offense in the postseason, defensive mistakes will be more glaring.

Luckily for Miami, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals gave them the necessary confidence boost. After playing disjointed in the first six games – partially because of the state of Wade’s and Bosh’s joints – the Heat hit threes, reignited their defense, and got No.6 involved early. In an absolute trouncing of the Pacers, whose final score doesn’t adequately reflect the hurt, the owners of the 27-game winning streak were clicking again.

With LeBron leading the way, the Heat might once again look unbeatable. Except that the Spurs are made up in ways similar to the 2011 Dallas Mavericks.

First, they have a speedy point guard in Tony Parker, who like J.J. Barea in 2011, can drive into the paint at will. In Manu Ginobili, they have a reliable sixth-man a la Jason Terry who can make big shots and can shift the tempo of games with a play. Kwawhi Leonard is another Shawn Marion type who can bother LeBron and make him work on the opposite end of the floor as well. Duncan won’t be Dirk-esque and Splitter won’t protect the rim like Tyson Chandler did in those Finals, but enough of the working parts are similar enough to draw at least a second look. Rick Carlisle ran circles against Spoelstra in that championship run, so you would expect Popovich to also have the edge here.

There’s also three things weighing in San Antonio’s favor (as discovered through ESPN‘s stat mine).

Their postseason-leading numbers of assists per game at 23.6, assist-to-turnover rate of 1.96, and defense (95.4 per 100 possessions) are everything the doctor ordered. If you move the ball well, you can avoid Miami’s patented heavily-committed traps and disrupt their in-paint crowds. Moving the ball against them typically results in bad passes or steals, which can be disastrous, but a very good assist-to-turnover ratio should help impede that—especially with Parker managing plays. And, the Spurs have been playing just as good defensively as the Pacers, and this after meeting with the likes of Golden State. A postseason leading defense will need to operate at maximum efficiency in order to stop LeBron while removing his Swiss Army knife of teammates as options. If anyone can do that, it’s the Spurs.

Timmy gets his fifth.


San Antonio Spurs 4-3 Miami Heat

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Bogar Alonso
Bogar Alonso is a dedicated student of the hardwood, soccer pitch, boxing ring, and tennis court. He is a regular NBA contributor to XN Sports. His work, involving more than just sports, has appeared on The Creators Project, A&E Networks, XXL Magazine, and others. Follow Bogar on Twitter @blacktiles