For the second consecutive year, the Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat will face off against the Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs. Both teams once again dominated the regular season and took familiar paths to reaching the Finals, but this time the Spurs will have home court advantage thanks to earning the top seed in the playoffs. Much has been made about the disparity between the Eastern and Western Conference this year, and as a result the Spurs are much more battle tested in the playoffs than the Heat. San Antonio battled an 8th seeded Mavericks team in seven games, a sharp shooting Portland squad, and the second seeded Thunder led by MVP Kevin Durant. Meanwhile, the Heat swept a pathetic Bobcats team, overcame an old Nets team, and knocked off an incredibly inconsistent Pacers team. Nevertheless, both teams still feel like they have something to prove, and the rivalry aspect of this series should make it a good one.
Tim Duncan will be looking to avenge last year’s heartbreaking Finals loss and cement his legacy with his fifth NBA championship, while Lebron James will be looking to match an accomplishment done by Michael Jordan (twice) and Kobe Bryant by winning his third consecutive championship. The Heat are the younger and more athletic team, capable of playing high-flying offense and lock down defense. The Spurs are the more balanced and well-rounded team, with a deep roster of both veterans and young players. On the coaching side, the advantage clearly goes to Spurs coach Gregg Poppovich over Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. One important factor to look out for at the beginning of this series is the status of Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who missed the second half of game 6 of the Western Conference Finals with an ankle injury, but is expected to start Game 1 on Thursday night.
As everyone remembers, the course of last year’s NBA Finals was dramatically altered by Ray Allen’s three pointer in Game 6 as the Heat went on to win the series in seven games. I think this will be another hard-fought series, similar to last year, but in the end home court advantage helps the Spurs take home their fifth NBA championship in seven games.
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