Much like the rest of the world, I’m still shaking from Sunday’s Game of Thrones “Red Wedding” shocker, and I even read the book beforehand! However, I’ve decided to come out of mourning for the late King in the North because just like winter; the NBA Finals are coming…tonight! And while part of my mind is still submerged in Westeros, I will do my best to focus on a King who is still breathing, Norris Cole’s high fade, Tim Duncan’s politeness, and everything NBA Finals to get you ready for what should be an epic series (we hope).
So what’s at stake here? Well for starters, it’s the freakin finals! But other than that, it’s a chance for the Heat to build their dynasty, a chance for Lebron to quiet a few more haters as he continues his ascent to the greatest player of all time. It’s a chance for D-Wade to hear more Scottie Pippen comparisons, and a chance for the evil vampire Pat Riley to coach another championship team (with all due respect to Speolstra, we know who’s REALLY pulling the strings in Miami).
As for the Spurs, this is their chance to finally get the respect they deserve. Nobody outside of San Antonio really cares that the Spurs have won four championships over the past sixteen years or that they have won at least fifty games each season for the last fourteen years. But if they beat the big bad Heat, people will finally have to give a shit. They will also have to acknowledge the scary idea of Tim Duncan and NOT Kobe Bryant as the greatest player of the post-Jordan era (until Lebron shoots past both of them in a warp speed rocket ship). Then there’s Greg Popovich, the Lebron James of coaches. Nobody in the league gets more out of their players than the Pop. He also may possibly be a former spy, which is pretty damn cool.
If the Heat are going to win this series, it will have to be on their terms. We already saw what happens to the Heat against a very physical defense in the last series. The Heat work best when they are whipping the ball around the court, forcing turnovers, and executing the fast break. They also set the standard when it comes flopping. They frustrate other teams into errant passes and clumsy play. They will nickel and dime you all up and down the court. And if you let them take the lead, they will step on your throat and make sure you never have the chance to get it back.
A lot of people say the Spurs are boring to watch (myself included). As a matter of fact, the Spurs are boring to watch (sometimes). But you have to respect that they play basketball the right way. Like textbook perfect. They stick to their guns always and never waiver in their plan. The Spurs are like the Ned Stark of basketball (I had to get at least one GoT reference in). I mean that they live and die by the book, not that their heads will be chopped off. If you are going to beat the Spurs, you have to be the better team, because they don’t get outsmarted or outplayed.
Nobody is surprised to see Miami and San Antonio square off in the Finals. They are both immensely talented teams playing their best ball when it matters most. However, if I were a gambling man I would say this series is Miami’s to lose. No disrespect to the Spurs, they will give the Heat one hell of a fight, and I would say this series goes at least six games, but if we learned anything from the Pacer’s series it’s this; the Heat are beatable, but not when it matters most. Every time Miami has been pressed these playoffs; in game 1 of the eastern conference semis against the Bulls and in games 2, 4 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals; they come back and slug you in the face. Lebron is liable to go “superhuman” at any given moment, and if Wade’s not bothered by injuries, he’s the second best player in the Finals.
So the Spurs have their work cut out for them. If they are to win they will have to beat the Heat in consecutive games, something that hasn’t happened in over six months. They will need to get at least four good games out of Ginobili, they will need to have the better bench, and they will have to pray the referees don’t sabotage any games for them. But with the greatest power forward to ever play the game, the best coach in the NBA, the most underappreciated point guard in the NBA, and the self-titled “Red Mamba”, the Spurs may not be favored, but it’s not by much. So let us enjoy these next two weeks, because after they are over all we’ll have is baseball all summer (and the occasional X-games). We are being treated to a phenomenal matchup that is rich with storylines (Tracy McGrady anyone?) and hopefully lots of Jeff Van Gundy. It’s the Finals, and in the game of NBA thrones if you don’t win, ESPN will overanalyze you for weeks.