Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2013 NBA Finals preview + predictions

By Kshell

This NBA Finals is probably the most anticipated NBA Finals we have seen since Magic Johnson and his Los Angeles Lakers took on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1991 NBA Finals. This match up is so intriguing because it appears to be two eras clashing against each other. You have the San Antonio Spurs who are going to their fifth NBA finals who represent the old dynasty. Their face of the franchise is Tim Duncan who was the #1 pick in the NBA back in 1997. The Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is 64 years old. The Miami Heat on the other hand are the team that is seen as the next dynasty led by their face Lebron James who is only 28 years and just won his fourth MVP in five seasons. Their head coach is Erik Spoelstra who is only 42 years old. In fact the age difference in the coaches is the largest in NBA finals history. This series is intriguing also because these are the two best teams in the NBA and demonstrated all season long they were the best teams. This series also features four NBA Finals MVP's in Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. This finals also has future hall of famers Chris Bosh, Manu Ginobili and Ray Allen. This series has the star power element to it. In this following post I'll preview this finals and offer up my prediction.

1. Which star player is going to increase his legacy this series with a championship performance?

The last time we saw Tim Duncan in the NBA Finals was in 2007 when he swept the 22 year old rising star Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tim Duncan after that sweep told James after the game this league will be his and thanked him for letting him get one last championship. For Duncan it took him six more years to go back to the NBA Finals. For James he had to wait five more years before winning his first title. Both players if they retired today would be in the top 10 all-time in NBA history for greatest players to have ever lived. If Duncan can win his fifth NBA title in a span of 14 years he could rise in the top 5. Duncan also saves his best for the NBA Finals as he is a three-time NBA Finals MVP. In 22 career NBA Finals games Duncan is 16-6 and has been a monster in those finals. He is averaging 22.7 PPG, 14.4 RPG, 3.4 APG and 3.04 blocks per game. In the 2003 NBA Finals win over the New Jersey Nets Duncan in six games averaged 24.1 PPG, 17.0 RPG, 5.3 APG and 5.3 blocks per game. That might be the greatest performance in NBA Finals History.

Lebron James has had a mixed bag for the NBA Finals so far in his career. In 2007 when he was swept by Duncan and the Spurs he only averaged 22.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 6.8 APG. He also shot 35.6% from the field which was very un Lebron like. In 2011 against Dallas was Lebron's low point of his career where only averaged 17.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 6.8 APG as he was only the teams' third leading scorer. That all changed for James last year when he was NBA Finals MVP against the Zombie Sonics. He averaged 28.6 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 7.4 APG which were all NBA Finals career highs. This postseason James is playing great once again averaging 26.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG and 6.4 APG. His stats don't tell the whole story as he rested a lot in the first round sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks. At the end of this series one of these two guys are going to greatly improve their legacy. I expect both players to have huge series as I don't see either team stopping Duncan who made NBA First Team at the age of 37 years old or Lebron James who is in his prime.

2. Whichever struggling star rises up this series their team wins the title:

I'm sure everyone has heard about the struggles of Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade by now but the Spurs are waiting for their key player Manu Ginobili to step up this series. For Ginobili and Wade this will be their fourth NBA Finals trip and neither team will win the title if they continue to struggle. Ginobili this postseason has been pretty bad averaging only 11.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 5.4 APG while shooting only 38.3% from the field.

For Wade he has also been dreadful this postseason averaging only 14.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 4.9 APG while shooting only 44.7% from the field. He was especially bad against the Indiana Pacers until game 7 when he scored 21 points his first 20 point outing since game two of the first round. Wade does tend to play his best in the NBA Finals though. In 17 career Finals games Wade is averaging 28.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 4.7 APG, 1.88 steals and 1.23 blocks which is pretty impressive. In the 2006 NBA Finals he was Finals MVP as he averaged 34.7 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.8 APG, 2.7 steals per game and 1.0 blocks per game. If Wade plays like he is capable the Heat should win the series. However given he is 31 years old and breaking down who knows what the Heat will get from Wade?

The same could be said for Ginobili who hasn't scored in double figures in four of his last five postseason games. Ginobili is going be 36 this summer and a big part of the reason why the Spurs haven't reached the NBA Finals since 2007. He hasn't been healthy since then. In the Finals he has played well in the past in 2007 he averaged 17.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG and 2.5 APG. In 2005 he averaged 18.7 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 4.0 APG. In 2003 he was more of a role player back then but he was a huge part of the last two championship teams. If the Spurs can get Ginobili to return to what he's capable of they'll win the title.

I feel like this is the series right here. I know James, Parker and Duncan will play well. If Wade can play like Wade the Heat have the advantage but if Wade struggles the Spurs have the slight edge. If Ginobili can give the Spurs something they've been missing from him this whole postseason they could very well win the title.

3. Will Tony Parker claim title of NBA's best point and have a similar performance like his NBA Finals MVP performance in 2007? 

I remember when Parker was in his first NBA Finals in 2003 the sub plot was the Spurs were going to get rid of him and sign the man he was going up against Jason Kidd. Now Parker might be the NBA's best point guard(It's him or Chris Paul). Parker is having a great playoffs so far as this has been his team since 2011 when the Spurs went from being an old aging dynasty to rejuvenated. Parker this postseason is averaging 23.0 PPG, 7.2 APG and 3.9 RPG. In the Western Conference Finals sweep vs the Memphis Grizzlies Parker averaged 24.5 PPG, 9.5 APG and 3.5 RPG. He shot a ridiculous 26-43(60.4%) from the field in the games final two games.

This is nothing new for Parker on the big stage as he has 17 NBA Finals starts under his belt. He was the NBA Finals MVP against Lebron James in the 2007 NBA Finals. He averaged 24.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 3.3 APG while shooting 56.8% from the field and 57.1% from three pointers that series. Parker is a five-time all-star and has made second team all-NBA the last two seasons. Another strong Finals this year for Parker would put him as the best point guard in the game right now. Also historically he would be the starting point guard on four title teams. Three of those teams he'd been the best player or second best player on the team. Parker has to come up huge for the Spurs to have a chance and most likely will be having Lebron James cover him in the fourth quarter.

4. Will Chris Bosh make an appearance this Finals after no showing in the ECF? 

Chris Bosh has struggled this postseason and especially in the last four games. These playoffs he is only averaging 12.3 PPG and 6.6 RPG. In the last four games Bosh is averaging only 7.0 PPG and 5.0 RPG. He is shooting 8-34(23.5%) in that four game stretch as well. Roy Hibbert completely took Bosh out of the series with his height and physicality. Bosh was over matched and lost his confidence. However, he is facing a team that he's done well against this year in their two meetings. Bosh averaged 20.5 PPG and 10.5 RPG against the Spurs while shooting 58.6% from the field. Bosh also had a memorable moment this year against the Spurs. The Heat were playing without Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers at San Antonio in late March. The Heat somehow were only trailing by one point when Chris Bosh hit the game winning three pointer . I don't think the Spurs are as physical as the Pacers are so Bosh should be in his comfort zone.

Bosh has played well in the last two NBA Finals as well. In the 2011 NBA Finals loss Bosh actually out scored Lebron as he averaged 18.5 PPG and led the team in rebounds with 7.3 per game. Last year in the Finals he was coming off an injury and played well again averaging 14.6 PPG and 9.4 RPG. In the clinching game Bosh scored 24 points and had 7 rebounds as he shot 9-14(64.3%) from the field. The Heat obviously can't win the title if Bosh provides them nothing. Bosh has to step up and I think in this match up he should do much better.

Prediction: Heat win in six games

The Miami Heat are the best team in the NBA, have home court advantage, have the best player in the game while in his prime and also haven't lost back to back games since January. This postseason when the Heat do lose a game they respond by beating their opponent by an average of 22.6 points per game. I think they have been playing around with their opponents like last years postseason saw. Last year the aging Boston Celtics pushed the Heat to elimination before the Heat won in seven. Then everyone doubted them against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat won in five games in what was their easiest series of the playoffs since the first round.

I expect the Spurs to get a split in Miami and I think this series will be tied at two games a piece. Unlike in 2011 I think the Heat win the pivotal game five on the road then come back home to celebrate. The Heat are in the Finals despite Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen all underachieving. Those players are all due to break out and if they just break out even slightly you see what can happen . This is James league now and Duncan prophecy will come true. This is now James league and Duncan was fortunate to go up against James when he was 22 years old. Like James said recently he is 50 times better than he was then. He's won two gold medals, four NBA MVP's and a championship since that time. Teams who have reached the NBA Finals for the third straight year have won the last five times(1990 Detroit Pistons, 1993 Chicago Bulls, 1998 Chicago Bulls, 2002 Los Angeles Lakers, and 2010 Los Angeles Lakers). Just like in 1991 the new up and coming dynasty is going to take out the old dynasty.

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