Ray Allen’s huge three pointer against San Antonio in Game six of the 2013 NBA Finals changed the outcome of the series in a matter of seconds for the Miami Heat, eventually allowing the team to win its second championship with the “Big Three”. Now, one year later, Miami returns to the NBA Finals in a rematch with a San Antonio Spurs team who were seconds away from winning a NBA championship of its own.
As the Spurs look to seek revenge in this year’s Finals, Miami looks to win its third championship in four years. Not including the preseason matchup, the two teams split the season series 1-1, though we know regular season matchups don’t matter much in the postseason. Miami must limit the Spurs offensively, which will be a key aspect in their success and be efficient on all levels throughout the series.
LeBron James must have a great series in terms of offensive production. When the two teams met in the season, James averaged nearly 19 points, much less than his normal average in points per game. It is important that he has more than 20 points in every game. He will be guarded at times by Kawhi Leonard and Boris Diaw, who are by now no strangers to him. Ultimately, his production will set the tone for the team’s success in the series.
Coming off a strong series against the Pacers, Dwyane Wade must remain consistent. He must find ways to attack the basket, allowing him to get to the free throw line and shoot well within the series. In the regular season, he averaged almost 14 points per game. He has the opportunity to make a big impact on the game with either Manu Ginoboli or Danny Green guarding him. If he can exploit this opportunity, add to his production and remain consistent, this will definitely help Miami.
During the regular season, Chris Bosh accounted for 24 points as the leading scorer for the Heat in both of the regular season matchups. He must bring that same intensity and level on consistency into game one. Although Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter will attempt to cause havoc for him in the post, he has the opportunity to make a huge contribution on offense and in the rebounds category, where he was often limited at times against Indiana. If he does these two things, he will limit the Spurs in terms of rebounding and force them to stop him on offense as well.
With Tony Parker now playing in game one after spraining his ankle in game six against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Heat will be challenged in terms of stopping his ability to penetrate the basket. Parker is deadly in terms of scoring, but his ability to penetrate gives him the ability to open up the floor for his other teammates to make plays. His level of play and whether or not Miami is able to limit his playing ability will determine the Spurs overall play offensively. By limiting him, it does not stop the Spurs’ offense all together but does hinder their ability to move efficiently on the court.
Miami must also keep an eye out in limiting Danny Green’s three point shot opportunities, Ginoboli’s ability to get hot during the game and Duncan’s ability to dominate in the post against a Heat team who is rather small in the interior. However, most importantly, Miami must limit the Spurs bench production. When the Spurs beat the Heat back in March, Leonard, Duncan, Green, Parker and Ginoboli combined for only 63 of San Antonio’s 111 points. The Spurs’ bench contributed 48 points in the win as well, which speaks volumes. Boris Diaw, a major role player who averaged almost 16 points per game against the Heat and made big plays on defense for the Spurs last year, will definitely be an X-factor for the Spurs and someone else to for Miami to lookout for in the series.
Miami must play smart, balanced, win the battle on turnovers and players like Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis must shoot well from the floor, as they will have the opportunity to contribute a good source of points for the Heat from stellar three point shooting.
The game is set for tonight at 9 p.m. eastern time on ABC.