Looking Ahead: Heat x Spurs Destined for a Finals Rematch?

The following piece was written by former RP-Youth player and current Ateneo Blue Eagle Von Pessumal, who was one of my (excellent) high school students a few years ago. 


            Yes, it’s that time of the year again: The Playoffs. Where getting 16 wins translates to an NBA championship, and anything short of that is a failure. At this part of every season, it becomes quite evident that there are only a handful of teams that can truly be labeled as legitimate contenders; the rest are merely pretenders. With that being said, here is my potential NBA Finals Matchup this coming June:

Will it be a monumental rematch of last year's Final's protagonists?
Ateneo Blue Eagle Von Pessumal thinks so. Agree or disagree?

            Eastern Conference Champion Prediction: Miami Heat

            One name: LeBron James.

            Do I need to say more? I can actually just rest my case right here. For those of you who still don’t believe in the power of the King, let me break it down for you:

            LeBron James is the best player in the world today. His overall impact in each game is unparalleled compared to any other player in the league. Offensively, he’s just a beast. Defensively, he’s still a beast. Add in future Hall of Famers in Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen,  and (maybe) Chris Bosh by his side and the result is a championship contending team.

            3 Reasons why Miami will make it that far:

1.                LeBron James and His Ability To Orchestrate The Offense

            LeBron James is a point guard. Even if he was just 6’2, I believe he would still be playing professional basketball at a very high level. He just happens to be 6’8 and weighs 260 lbs. His ability to see and make plays before they actually happen is a testament to his overall basketball IQ. The Miami Heat have won two championships with the point guard combo of Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole simply because LeBron is the actual point guard of the team, even if he’s a forward on paper. LeBron is ALWAYS looking for the open man. If LeBron isn’t dunking the ball on the opponent’s big men, he’s kicking it out to knock down shooters such as Allen, Chalmers, Shane Battier, or Rashard Lewis. If not, he’s dropping it low to a very capable Chris Bosh.  Oh, and don’t forget about fellow superstar Dwyane Wade, who has developed into a very efficient off-the-ball scorer. Despite this, I believe Wade can still be somebody whom the Heat can go to down the stretch of close contests simply because of his poise and experience in late game situations. All these factors make Miami an extremely deadly team on the offensive end.

2.         Miami’s Swarming Defense

            The Heat are ranked 2nd in the league in Turnovers Forced (Behind the Philadelphia 76ers) and are also ranked 2nd in the league in Points Off Turnovers (Trailing only the Los Angeles Clippers). That’s what this team will do: they will smother the ball, force teams to make mistakes, and let LeBron and Wade do their thing in transition. Their tenacious defense has found its way to two championship rings because of the versatility of their personnel. The Miami Heat essentially play small ball with Chris Bosh at the center position and LeBron James at the power forward spot. But looking at it again, is it really considered small ball? I mean, Chris Bosh is naturally a PF but as a center, he is mobile enough to effectively guard pick and rolls, strong enough to cover the post, and smart enough to rotate to where he needs to be in each possession. In LeBron’s case, I don’t think any other power forward can out-power and out-muscle him down low, and I definitely don’t think anybody is quicker than him in that position. To reiterate, LeBron’s just a beast. LeBron might be the only player in the NBA who can truly guard all five positions (The only other player I can think of is Joakim Noah, but even that is a stretch in itself). And, again, let’s not forget one of the top defensive two-guards for the past 10 years in Wade. Factor in defensive aces Battier and Udonis Haslem, the tenacity of both Chalmers and Cole, and the shot blocking ability of Chris Andersen and Greg Oden, and  the Heat are definitely a force to reckon with on the defensive end.


3.         Their Best Is Yet To Come

            Watching them play this season, I have this inkling that they seem to be merely cruising through some stretches of games. And rightfully so; Miami has been in the NBA finals since 2010, which makes that 4 straight finals appearances for them. So for the past 4 years, they have ended each season in June, which means that their offseason is much shorter compared to all the other teams. That kind of schedule is taxing to say the least.
I just have this feeling that from the very start of the season, they knew that they would be able to win games in the regular season without having to exert their full effort in each and every game. They started this season with one end in mind: the Playoffs.

            Dwayne Wade has only played 52 games this season. He may be getting up there in terms of age, but when he’s suited up, he’s the same old D-Wade that we all know and love. With everyone essentially healthy coming into the Playoffs, the championship core of LeBron, D-Wade, Bosh, and Allen all know what it takes to make it to the top. The best of Miami Heat basketball is coming.


            Western Conference Champion Prediction: San Antonio Spurs


            What? Seriously? Not KD and OKC? Not even CP3 and Lob City?

            Nope. I truly believe San Antonio is gonna come out of the West again this year.
The Spurs are the best team in the NBA right now. People will always count them out simply because they’re too old, or since they did not significantly improve their roster from last year. Whatever it is, the Spurs don’t seem to care. All they care about is winning.

            3 Reasons why San Antonio will make it this far:

1.         The Spurs Play Unselfish Basketball

            Extra Pass. Extra-Extra Pass. Extra-Extra-Extra Pass. I just basically summed up a typical San Antonio offensive possession. As a basketball fan, I absolutely love watching the Spurs play. Sometimes, the ball looks like a bomb that’s about to go off the way they’re passing it around. They space the floor well. They look for the best shot available. Simply put, they play San Antonio Spurs Basketball.  It’s a beautiful way to play the game. This type of offensive efficiency is predicated on the unselfishness of their three main players: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan. The original Big Three are not only prolific passers in their own right, but they are also very willing distributors, which is just a testament to their greatness as basketball players. When a team’s best players are the ones sharing the basketball, I guess it’s not a mystery why the Spurs ranked 1st in assists. Unselfishness is contagious, and every player in that San Antonio team looks like he’s sick with passing fever.

2.         Greg Popovich

            He’s the best coach in the NBA. He should win Coach of the Year every single season if you were to ask me. Greg Popovich just knows the game of basketball. His offensive system is so flawless that it looks like they’re just in practice running through their sets. Greg Popovich puts every single of his players in place. After nearly a decade coaching the greatest power forward of all time in Tim Duncan, he stills gets on him during games. When a coach sees all players equally and without any prior bias, that creates a culture that is geared towards one thing and one thing only: Winning.

            You know what’s even more absurd about Greg Popovich? He managed to get the best record in the NBA without a single player averaging 30 minutes a game. Nope, not even Tony Parker or Kawhi Leonard. That’s just amazing. His ability to manage minutes for each and every game indicates how he sees the NBA season as a whole. He knows his players are getting old. He knows when he can afford to rest some of his starters. He just knows what to do. So what am I trying to drive at here? The Spurs have fresh legs coming into the Playoffs. It’s all thanks to Pop. They were already good enough to get the best record in the NBA, so now imagine how better they will be when Parker, Manu, Tim,  and Kawhi are playing 35-40 minutes a game. Yikes.


3.         The Spurs are a Machine

            I don’t think there is any other way to describe the way they play. San Antonio is just a machine. A game-winning machine. Game at home? W. Game on the road? W. No Parker, Manu, or Tim? W. Starting players we probably never have heard before? W. Starting players from their D-league affiliate? W.
           
            Okay, I was just kidding about that last one. The point is, they just find ways to win basketball games. Like any good relationship, the foundation of their team is based on trust. Their structure offensively and defensively relies a lot on communication and togetherness. In fact, the Spurs know their stuff so well that Pop can just plug-in any player in that system and still get major production. In turn, I believe a lot of the credit should go to their other guys as well. The Spurs have the best role-players. Wait, hold on, let me repeat that: The Spurs have the BEST role-players. They aren’t exactly the most talented players out there, but these guys can flat out play the game. They boast of several career 40% 3pt shooters in Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills, and Matt Bonner. They have two incredibly gifted passing big men in Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw. I don’t know if Kawhi Leonard is considered a role-player, but if he is, he’s the best one in all of the NBA. Kawhi Leonard does everything right. Offensively, he can knock down jumpers, get to the basket, and even create for his fellow teammates. Defensively, he’s a stud. His huge hands allow him to get steals off passes and strips, he can lock down the opponent’s best perimeter player, and he’s an excellent shot blocker for his position.

            And of course, Parker, Manu and Tim can always be counted upon. Their experience and composure down the stretch of tough games will always come into play. Oh, and let’s not forget that they were a rebound away from winning another NBA championship last year. The Spurs are a hungry bunch. After losing, a lot believed that that would be their last run for a championship. Wrong again guys, wrong again.  Whatever the case is, I’m not picking against the Spurs again. Maybe you shouldn’t, too.

            As for the winner between these two elite basketball teams? That’s another story in itself.



           I just want to thank my former High School moderator, Enzo Flojo, for giving me the opportunity to publish my work. Writing has always been one of my passions in life.

            Hoping for many more to come.

                
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5 Comment
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great article! Ay grabe i believe so it'll be a finals rematch.. i like that spurs as a machine! And coach Pop still dbest!

Balas
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Wow i really learned a lot from this article. Kudos to the writer. I think that ypu have extremely valid points and it was thoroughly explained and well thought out. Amazing job!

Balas
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The Miami Heat has not gone to the NBA Finals 4 straight times and Coach Popovich have been coaching Tim Duncan for nearly 2 decades, 17 years to be exact.

Balas
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good write-up idol!

Balas
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hmmm you're right. my mistake!

Balas