San Antonio Spurs take a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals. Did you really expect anything less from Coach Popovich’s team?
History books tell us the Spurs do NOT lose in the NBA Finals (4-0). On top of that, they remain undefeated in game one in Finals (5-0). And some fans assumed a 4-0 win by the Miami Heat. My advice: study the Popovich system.
Nowadays Sports Center, Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless, etc. etc. etc. put so much emphasis on super stars in the league, especially LeBron James. Who can stop him? How many rings will he win? How many MVPs will he win? Is he better than Jordan? These analysts, whether intentional or not, keep in the shadows the true champions of the past decade and a half– the San Antonio Spurs.
It took the Spurs six years to return to the big stage, but they didn’t miss a beat despite an aging Tim Duncan, new role players and a passing down of the torch from Duncan to Tony Parker. In the 2013 playoffs, the Spurs have been the most consistent team. The week and a half of rest proved the difference in regulation, giving the Spurs a 23-16 advantage.
Opposite the Spurs are the Miami Heat who struggled against the defense and bigs of the Indiana Pacers. Playing against David West and Roy Hibbert is physical, especially when the series drags out to seven games. The Heat played well in third quarters throughout the playoffs this season, but when fatigue set in the Spurs took advantage of their struggle to find a shot. The Heat looked gassed, and James even asked Coach Spoelstra to sit out at the start of the fourth quarter.
Fans and analysts should reward consistency and identity. The Spurs are efficient, they have a well-balanced floor, they have the best coach in the NBA, and they are great defensively. Everyone in a Spurs uniform knows their role and it’s been that way for over a decade.
But instead fans and analysts reward the team with super star LeBron James. The Heat are inconsistent and in the last two seasons FINALLY decided this was LeBron’s team. They are at full potential when the team plays from inside to out, but they are caught perimeter shooting too often. James got his triple-double tonight, but that still wasn’t enough for his team.
The most frustrating lack of identity within the Heat is Chris Bosh. He should be more of a post-up player standing 6’11, but he is mentally trapped taking long jump shots and 3-pointers this playoff season. I think he still has nightmares of the Pacers’ bigs. I can’t help but think a better head coach could get Bosh involved offensively and bring him back to his double-double days in Toronto. James could use the help so he’s not having to rebound 18 times, facilitate 10 assists in comparison to Dwyane Wade’s one assist, AND guard Tony Parker.
The Spurs are who I thought they were- four time NBA champions in quest for their fifth title.
The Heat are who I think they are- reigning NBA champions and a super star with a heavy load on his back.