In Part 2 of today’s post, I’m going to give a quick breakdown of the positional matchups in the NBA Finals series between the San Antonio Spurs and The Miami Heat with a boxing-style score count. Yes, inventive I know!
Mario Chalmers vs. Tony Parker
2013 Playoff Stats:
Chalmers: 8.9 PPG // 2.1 RPG // 3.5 APG // 77.5% FT // 30% 3P // 9.62 EFF Rating
Parker : 23 PPG // 3.9 RPG // 7.2 ASG // 86.7% FT // 37.5% 3P // 21.8 EFF
Doesn’t seem fair does it?
Chalmers is going up against a point guard that Charles Barkley refers to as the best PG in the NBA. I’m not 100% sure I agree with it, but by far he is the most underappreciated. Most people don’t have him ranked in their top 5 PG list much less the top 3 (where he should be ranked). He’s the best player on the best team in the West and has been for at least the last two seasons, officially taking the reins from Tim Duncan & Manu Ginobili. Chalmers & Norris Cole will take turns (as well as LeBron for small stretches) trying to corral Parker, as well as trying to make open jumpers & threes to offset the damage Parker will do to them on the other end of the floor. This matchup can really hurt the Heat here, they might need to throw constant double teams (& possibly holy water) & hope he turns the ball over.
Score: Spurs 10, Heat 8
Dwyane Wade vs. Danny Green
Wade: 14.1 PPG // 4.9 RPG // 4.9 APG // 44% FG // 74% FT // 25% 3P
Green: 9.6 PPG // 4.1 RPG // 1.9 APG // 45% FG // 71% FT // 43% 3P
** Disclaimer – This comparison is about Wade, the player in this playoffs, not the normal, healthier version. **
In most cases, Wade would dominate this matchup on a “Hakeem on Robinson” type level, but with his knees betraying him, playoff inconsistency, & struggling to fully embrace the Robin costume (let’s face it, they don’t even talk about Wade anymore when the Heat’s name comes up, & he ran Miami for years. He’s only 31, but he’s slowly coming out of his prime. It’s a hard adjustment). This matchup is a little closer than you think. Green’s not going to match up with him scoring wise, but defensively he’s going to pester Wade for stretches at a time. The key to this matchup is for Wade to keep moving without the ball, make quick decisions, and be aggressively smart to get Green & his teammates in foul trouble. But will we even see the old Wade this series? If so, then this series might be done a lot faster than most imagined. The SG spot may be the most important matchup in the next two weeks to be honest, especially when a well-rested Manu Ginobili enters the game. I actually can’t wait for him to go against Wade for seven games, in all their elite level, Euro-stepping glory. I’m going to lean towards Wade here, “barely”, but I think he might have just enough impactful moments to win this matchup here…Just enough.
Score: Heat 10, Spurs 9
LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard
James: 26.2 PPG // 7.3 RPG // 6.4 ASG // 51.4% FG // 77.2% FT // 38.7% 3P
Leonard: 13 PPG // 8 RPG // 1.1 ASG // 56.5% FG // 59.4% FT // 41.7% 3P
Nothing to see here, keep it moving and please use the side exits…..
……..I like Leonard, I think he is a really solid player with a bright future. However, asking someone to guard a 4-time MVP in the prime of his career, carving out his legacy along the very best players in NBA history, while also giving up 30+ pounds to the most physically imposing, small forward the game has ever seen, is too much to ask of anyone much less a second year player. NEXT!
Score: Heat 10, Miami 7
Chris Bosh vs Tim Duncan
Bosh: 12.3 PPG // 6.6 RPG // 1.2 APG // 45.7% FG // 73.3% FT // 48.4% 3P
Duncan: 17.8 PPG // 9.2 RPG // 2.1 APG // 46% FG // 79.7% FT // 1.7 BPG
As much as people like to kill Bosh for his photo-bombing awareness, his ability to get clowned relentlessly for being himself, and everything else in between, he’s still an 8-time All Star who is very likely on the path to the Hall of Fame (sorry, it’s true), especially if he can add two more rings &/or 2-3 more All Star bids to his resume. However, he is entering the series in a slump, averaging less than 10 points in the last 4 straight games. What’s the worst way to try to break a slump? Facing off against Tim Duncan in a seven game series. His focus on taking away the things that you love to do – like he did against Zach Randolph in the Western Conference Finals – is almost unprecedented. We know the old story: he’s boring to watch, his game puts people to sleep, but the consistency of his greatness is almost unmatched. I can throw all the stats out at you, but this may be my favorite one yet: in his rookie year at age 21, he made the All-NBA First Team. Sixteen years later at age 37, he made the All-NBA First Team. Has that even happened before???? He sees the end coming soon, but with the way Roy Hibbert look like Mikan, Wilt, & Bill Russell all rolled into one against Miami, I can’t see how he doesn’t do similar damage to them. He’s as smart mentally as Hibbert is physically imposing. I expect to see him at the line a lot, getting the Heat’s big men to use up most of their 6 fouls each.
Score: Spurs 10, Heat 9
Udonis Haslem vs. Tiago Splitter
Haslem: 6.3 PPG // 3.9 RPG // 0.9 SPG // 61% FG // 53.8% FT
Splitter: 6.8 PPG // 3.7 RPG // 1.8BPG // 68.2% FG // 78.3% FT
Both Haslem and Splitter are role playing big men, who make their bones playing off of their superstar teammates by collecting garbage points, finishing dump off passes, setting solid screens off the pick and roll, and playing tough defense. They do it with slightly different styles, but both get the job done. It’s an even matchup but I give the slight edge to Haslem. Playing in his 4th Finals will make him more well-adjusted to the whole experience then a young player like Splitter, I’m expecting him to make less mistakes as the series prolongs.
Score: Heat 10, Spurs 9
Both teams have a pretty solid bench, Miami: Allen, Birdman, Battier, Miller, Cole, Anthony; Spurs: Ginobilli, Diaw, Bonner, Neal, Cory Joseph. For Miami, Allen, Battier, & Miller MUST make their open shots here. They struggled the whole Pacer series, and versus a team who averaged the 5th most bench points in the league, they will quickly fall behind if this happens again. The Spurs have been more consistent out of the two teams throughout the playoffs, so the needle tilts to their side on this one.
Score: Spurs 10, Heat 9
Both coaching staff in my opinion are the best in the game today. Eric Spoelstra doesn’t get enough credit for coaching the team this season. 27–game winning streaks doesn’t just happen because you roll out the balls to your great players, then sit back, & enjoy the show. A lot of it involves having your players dedicated to the system, while keeping them motivated for perfection in every game. He built the system around the unique talents of his best player while making sure Wade & Bosh were having a major impact. He brought a guy off the street (Birdman) and blended him in almost seamlessly. But this will be his biggest test, matching Xs & Os with Gregg Popovich, a legendary coach who’s 4-0 in the NBA Finals…… who has now had 10 days to plan for this series.
Score: Spurs 10, Heat 9
Game 1 is probably the most critical; a team that rests this long against the Spurs usually comes out rusty. While a team like the Heat coming off of a grueling series, will still be in game-time rhythm. If the Spurs can shake off the rust & steal this game, it can potentially be a big blow to the Heat, as the Spurs will only get sharper as the series progresses. Ultimately, I’m going with the Heat in 7 because they have the trump card in James, who as I mentioned before, is by far the best player in the NBA playing at his absolute peak, and in basketball, that counts for a lot. His game almost has no flaws right now, and having that specimen on your team is like having a universal key that can open any door in the building. As long as he’s constantly attacking this defense and causing problems in the paint with his scoring and playmaking, it will eventually wear the Spurs down…. even if they only wear down in Game 7.
Cal Cee // South Shore Ave
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