It is here. It is finally here. My favorite championship series in all of sports. This year, the Finals features two great teams in the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat ready to duke it out. I personally predicted the Grizzlies to beat the Spurs in the last round, but San Antonio surprised me with just how great they are at all facets of the game. Miami got through a tough series with the Pacers on the back of LeBron James, despite the lack of contributions from Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade throughout most of it. They're both here now, and I'm surely ready for what should be an epic matchup. Here is my [position-by-position breakdowns and predictions for the series.
Tony Parker vs. Mario Chalmers. What more need to be said. Parker is far and away the better player, consistently being one of the best players in the league. His pick-and-roll game is great and he always finds a way to get inside the paint. While Chalmers is a decent defender, one only needs to look at how miserable Parker made Mike Conley's life in the Conference Finals, and Conley is widely considered a great defensive player. Almost Unmeasureable Advantage: SPURS.
Manu Ginobili vs. Dwyane Wade. I'm using Ginobili here for the Spurs because he gets the crunch time minutes. Anyway, I don't exactly know who has the advantage here. Ginobili is old and looks it occasionally, but mostly is the same smart player he has always been. Wade on the other hand, shows up in spurts. He's never been a particularly good shooter, but at times he can be unstoppable at the rim and from mid-range. Other times, he doesn't draw fouls, and puts up a lot of bricks. When either of them goes through a bad streak, they balance each other out. Advantage: EVEN.
Kawhi Leonard vs. LeBron James. This is an extremely interesting matchup, because Leonard is an elite defender. Obviously, as shown by Paul George, no one can stop LeBron, but I want to see how much Leonard can slow him down. The length matchup is equal, but LeBron has a decided strength advantage His willingness to take Kawhi into the post will decide just how dominant he will be in this series. While he has become a better shooter, his perimeter shots alone will not shake Leonard. Obvious Advantage: HEAT.
Tim Duncan vs. Udonis Haslem. Duncan is much bigger than Haslem, and defensively, Udonis is going to have a bad time banging with Duncan down low. Expect to see a ton of BIRDMAN! BIRDMAN! in this spot. If Haslem can get his mid-range shooting going, it will help alot, because Timmy can't cover as much ground of the perimeter anymore. Advantage: SPURS.
Tiago Splitter vs. Chris Bosh. While Splitter has become a much better offensive player, even Chris Bosh will be able to defend him. Splitter doesn't leave the paint very often, so as long as Bosh is aggressive enough in boxing out, Splitter will be a non-factor on offense. Bosh's perimeter shooting takes Splitter out of the paint, so his shots need to fall. Either way, Advantage: HEAT.
Now what does this mean? There are a lot of things to look for in this series, with LeBron James's dominance being the main thing. Just how good will he be? The answer, very good, and it is for that reason that I say Heat in 7.
I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of tonight's game