Wednesday, June 05, 2013

It's Time For The Finals

I imagine that if you were a Pacers fan, Heat hater, or someone who enjoys competitive basketball, that game 7 was quite the letdown. I don't know what to make of it myself. Is it indicative of the true gap between the Heat and the Pacers, or were the 6 relatively close game prior to that more representative? I can't imagine the Heat were just dicking around up to that point, out of some misplaced belief they could play at 60% and still handle Indiana.

I wonder a little if the Heat weren't desperate. If the Pacers lose, well it sucks to miss a chance at the Finals, but not many people expected them to push Miami as hard as they did. If the Heat had lost though. . . People have been talking about the Heat having a chance to place themselves among the greatest single seasons of all time, what with the 66 wins and 27 game winning streak. If they had failed to even make the Finals, let alone win the title, they'd have heard about it all summer.

I don't know, maybe it was just a fluke game. Some games, everything goes one team's way. Maybe that's what this was. Or maybe Indiana's lack of a bench finally killed them.

As for the Spurs, well, yeah, I kind of whiffed on their series. Memphis couldn't even win one game, let alone four. So now it's Spurs/Heat. As someone with no particular love for the Heat, I'm feel stuck in the position of rooting for San Antonio. The Spurs do have size up front, so there's a decent chance they can render Shane Battier as useless as Indiana did, but it isn't as though the Heat lack for options. Udonis Haslem proved useful in the last series, and there's always LeBron to shift to power forward. Perhaps not advisable against Duncan or Splitter, but those guys have to rest some time, and I'm pretty sure LeBron can handle Boris Diaw or Matt Bonner.

I feel like the Spurs are more consistent, more capable of doing what they need to do, but Miami has the same sort of athleticism Oklahoma City used last year to stymie the Spurs. And with LeBron, Miami seems to have this level that only they can reach. They don't - or can't - do it all the time, but when they do, the other team is simply overmatched. That level might be as simple as, "Miami has LeBron, no one else has LeBron", but I think he, Wade, Bosh, and the rest have figured out a way to play together that makes them hard to match. They just don't always play that way. Bosh gets passive, Wade tries to reassert himself by ball-hogging or taking jump shots, they bitch to the refs, they get lazy on defense, and things go south.

The Spurs are better than the Pacers, especially on offense, so the Heat are going to need that level more now than they did in the previous round. The question is whether they kind find it often enough. Run their plays the way they know they need to, shut down what San Antonio wants to do. I think the Heat adjust their play depending on their perception of the opponent or what's at stake. I think with the title on the line, against the Spurs, they'll have their act together. Miami in 6.

If it turns out I'm wrong, I won't be unhappy about that.