NBA News And Notes: The Finals – By Cameron Heffernan

Could this be it for the Heat? Are the Spurs really going to close out the Finals tonight, in Miami? We take a closer look at tonight’s possibly series-sealing game six.


Is This Really The End? :

Up above is a picture from the introduction parade that the Miami Heat held after signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh, to join powers with Dwyane Wade. All in hopes to bring a dynasty to Miami. We all know the “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five,” that James spouted in confidence about their future, and then unrealized, goals of winning NBA Championships.

In 2011, The Dallas Mavericks bested the Heat, in Miami for the crown. The Mavs won three straight after going down, 1-2. Then the heat thumped the Thunder – believed to maybe be the better team, at the time – 4-1, capturing their second franchise title, and LeBron’s first of what we perceive to be many. This time though, that road has been paved in everything but gold. The Heat went down 1-2, then tied the series. Then, they were tied to a whipping post on Sunday, losing 114-104 (Miami clawed back when the scrubs came in for San Antonio) giving San Antonio the series lead they enjoy today.

So we have to ask, is this the end for that trio that promised, oh so much to the Miami fans? If they lose this one, they’re 1-2 in NBA Finals appearances – as a group, 2-2 as a franchise. Is that a success? The Celtics from ’59-’69 went 10-1 in NBA Finals, The Lakers from ’80-’88 went 5-2, The Celtics from that era went 3-2 – beating those Lakers once and losing twice, and then there’s the Lakers from ’00-’10 who won five, but Kobe Bryant will never let us forget that. I feel like I forgot a really important team in there, a team that could draw many parallels to this Heat team…. What was that team…. I feel this one is important…. Oh yeah, the Pistons who went back to back in ’89 and ’90. But I still feel like there’s a team that’s missing from this list….

Oh yeah, the Bulls, who went 6-0 in their Finals appearances from ’91-’98. We all remember two of those years, Michael retired (I don’t have to explain who Michael is, you should know.) and they didn’t do too much. Scottie Pippen got his chance to lead and went to the second round of the playoffs in both seasons, sans Jordan for the first time, all people remember from then though, is the “Scottie is a selfish player, because he wanted the last shot and it was given to Tony Kukoc,” business.

So looking at all those historic teams, and these are the teams the Heat are hoping to emulate, they aren’t doing too well. 1-1 is okay, but staring down the barrel of 1-2, probably not where they wanted to be after the “not one, not two, not three, not four….” nonsense.

On the other hand, there’s the Spurs. Who, in their four Finals appearances since ’99, have gone 4-0. Now, obviously if they win they go 5-0. It’s just simple mathematics. So that leaves us with, yet again, more questions.

Questions, like:

What does this mean for “The Big Three’s” Legacy?

What does this mean for LeBron James’s Legacy?

Does this make Tim Duncan better than Kobe Bryant or same level?

Even though he doesn’t have as many rings, does this put the Popovich at Jackson level?

And Finally, from ’99 – now, who’s better the Lakers or the Spurs ?

When it comes to the “Big Three’s” legacy, that still remains to be seen. They won one, they’ve been to three. They’ve easily been the best regular season team for the last three years. And the only team to come close, were the Thunder, but they made terrible moves, and they may make one, two more Finals.

When it comes to LeBron James’s legacy, in a whole It still remains to be seen. Although, four MVPs, Rookie of The Year and all his other accomplishments, point to him being recognized as one of the best of all time. Wilt Chamberlain won two and achieved super human feats on a nightly basis. LeBron does the same but we don’t look at him the same way people looked at Wilt. Chamberlain was something that wasn’t a mass commodity in his day. Now, although there is no one like LeBron in the league, there’s Wade, Durant, Bryant, so on and so forth, not to mention all the young superstars waiting in the wings to capture the throne next.

The Tim Duncan/Kobe Bryant thing we’ll figure out at another time, as well as the Popovich/Jackson, Spurs/Lakers debates. Let’s move onto looking at some of the bigger factors in game six.

With Ginobili running point in place of injured Tony Parker, most thought this series was over. Throughout, Ginobili looked washed up. Unable to dribble at times, never able to beat his man off the dribble, let alone coming off screens and off ball cuts, his defense was really all he had, but Dwyane Wade was destroying him in the paint. Tony Parker goes on the brink of tearing his hamstring, and bam! It’s like 2006 Ginobili dug himself out of whatever shallow grave Wade was digging him, and put up a 24 point, 10 assist performance, that we’ve all been waiting for.

The Spurs easily could’ve closed out this series, 4-1. They strayed from their bench in game four. Parker tried to take most of the load as well as Ginobili, but it didn’t work. Parker nearly went from just a strain to a full tear in his hammy, Ginobili looked as if he forgot what basketball was, and Danny Green and Gary Neal were left wide open from the three point line as Parker and Ginobili attempted to draw fouls to no avail. Do you know what happens when you drive for a foul and not the basket, and you don’t get the foul? You cause a turnover. The Spurs strayed away from this plan of idiocy in game five, and yet again depended on their young core that no one saw coming. If you told me Danny Green would establish himself as the all time three pointers made king in the NBA finals, a series that includes Ray Allen. I would’ve instantly reported you to the authorities.

The Spurs seem to have the answer for whatever Miami can throw at them. This is what confounds me to what Miami can do aside from hit 60% of their shots and draw more than 20 shooting fouls. That’s just a nice way of saying, aside from actually getting good shots and hitting them, more than likely, the Heat will be seeing minimum, 40 free throws a game, at least till all is said and done. Then the Golden Child that is LeBron James can have a shirt that reads, “earned twice, given once.”

The Heat look outmatched when the Spurs are on their game. If the Spurs are missing shot, the Heat have a chance. The Spurs though, haven’t been shooting poorly though. .469% to Miami’s .461%.

Can you kind of see what I’m saying here? That .008% that Miami is missing has made all the difference in this series. The Heat show that they’re dependent upon their stars to win. If they fall into a hole, they’re going to ‘Bron or Wade. Bosh is a 15% play, but otherwise, all plays are going through those other two. And whether it’s a drive and kick, or a post-up by Wade, it’s all very predictable; not Blake Griffin predictable, but predictable nonetheless.

The Spurs have depth, and much like in 2011, it’s killing the Heat. The tricks of Shane Battier can only carry you so far. Mario Chalmers is a solid sixth Banana, but not fourth. Right now, the hierarchy on the Heat runs like so, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Chalmers, Allen…… Birdman, and Battier/Cole. The Spurs: Parker, Duncan, Leonard, Ginobili, Green, Neal, Splitter, Diaw, and Bonner. I would personally want to roll out with the Spurs lineup.

Yes, the Heat have what we’re all starting to believe to be one of the greatest of all time. There’s just something about this series that puts the ball in San Antonio’s court. The Heat, aren’t a good enough “team”, they have a lot of good individual entities, but not enough to get past a rock hard unit like the Spurs. (Oh and, that double entendre is so intended).

Spurs take it tonight, in Miami, much like another Texas team did two years ago. If I’m wrong, I will certainly look for any excuses to make myself look justified – like the refs and other such. But if the Spurs do win, I will more than happily accept the credit for looking like a prophetic genius.

Editor’s/writer note: I placed a bet on the Spurs to win it all on February 14 at 11/2 odds.

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