The Heat vs. Spurs for the title shapes up to be one of the most exciting finals matchups of the decade, a true delight for basketball fans. Ever since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach, the Heat and Spurs were destined to eventually face each other on basketball’s greatest stage. Will Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich get their 5th ring together and cement the Spurs as one of the great dynasties of all time, or will LeBron get revenge for his 2007 NBA Finals loss to the Spurs? Legacies will be affected. Without further ado, here are the main storylines that will determine this tantalizing NBA Finals matchup:
The Battle of 3 Pt. Shooters
Both teams’ offenses rely on and get their spacing from their prolific 3 point shooters. For the Spurs, Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Danny Green, and others will have to be hitting their perimeter shots for the Spurs to find adequate spacing and passing lanes for Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to create and prevent the Heat from loading the paint. Meanwhile, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, and the rest of the Heat shooters must capitalize on their perimeter looks in order to open up the floor for LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to operate. This will be especially important for Wade to get going; Wade needs the shooters to be hitting shots to help him find seams in the paint and driving lanes.
Can Erik Spoelstra compete with Gregg Popovich?
In perhaps the most underrated matchup between the two teams, Erik Spoelstra must show that he can consistently match wits with the mastermind that is Gregg Popovich. Popovich, arguably the best coach in the game today, will test Spoelstra’s ability to make adjustments throughout the series. Spoelstra should be up to the task, as he has improved in leaps and bounds since becoming coach of the Miami Heat, but if he allows Popovich to completely outcoach him, the Heat will be in trouble.
Dwyane Wade vs. Manu Ginobili
Both stars have failed to perform to their lofty standards and reputations up to this point in the playoffs, though they have delivered in key moments. Wade’s balky right knee has clearly limited him. However, amid questions about whether he is in a steady decline, Wade’s Game 7 performance against Indiana was very encouraging, as he played with great energy and aggressiveness. Ginobili himself has not been completely healthy throughout the playoffs, but his 3 pointer in overtime of Game 1 against the Warriors won the game for the Spurs. Both players are integral to their teams’ overall success; their teams become truly unstoppable when Wade and Ginobili are at their best. If Wade comes up bigger than Ginobili in the Finals, the Heat will have the advantage, and vice versa.
Can the Heat contain Tony Parker?
Miami often has trouble defending good point guards. Tony Parker is one of the best – if not the best – point guard in the league. He is the Spurs’ motor on offense. The tireless Parker often runs many screen and rolls per possession to generate mismatches with the defense and keep the defense unsettled, and the attention he gets when he penetrates allows shooters to get open. Quite simply, Parker’s activity is the basis of the Spurs’ offense. How the Heat are able to deal with him and whether they choose to blitz him on pick-and-rolls are among the major question marks in this series.
Heat in 6. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will have better series now that they are rid of the bigger, athletic Pacers. The Heat also has LeBron and home court advantage, and these factors tilt the series in Miami’s favor.