The NBA Finals are here and the Miami Heat are heavy favorites. After dominating Indiana in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday, Miami now stands 9-0 in their most important playoff games over the past two seasons. They have won those games by an average of 19 points. San Antonio stands in the way of Miami's second straight title. The Spurs are disciplined, fundamentally strong, and battle tested. They however pose no threat to Miami.
Miami has beaten San Antonio four straight times dating back to March 4, 2011. Playing at home that night the Spurs shot 56 percent from the floor and went 17 of 28 from three point range. That is their only victory over Miami since LeBron James signed with the Heat.
As if it wasn't obvious, the chances of San Antonio shooting that well four times in a seven game series are nearly impossible. Miami ranked fifth in the NBA during the regular season allowing just 95 points a game. The Heat limited opponents to 44 percent shooting from the field, and 35 percent from behind the arc. During the playoffs Miami is second in the NBA allowing 87.6 points a game. The Heat's opposition have shot a hair under 43 percent in the playoffs with a 32.5 percent mark from downtown.
Indiana gave Miami a lot of trouble by battering them on the glass. The Pacers were the best rebounding team in the NBA during the regular season with a plus five margin for the year. The Heat ranked 19th in the association getting out-boarded by a rebound-and-a-half a game. Meanwhile, San Antonio was the 18th best team in that category at -1.2. The Spurs will not be able to take advantage of the biggest edge Indiana held. During the playoffs the Pacers out-rebounded their opponents by more than nine a game. Miami is -2.2 on the glass in the playoffs, ninth in the league. During the postseason the Spurs rank 11th in the NBA at -2.7 rebound a contest.
San Antonio and Miami were the two best home teams in the league this year. Miami went 37-4 at home during the regular season while the Spurs were 35-6. The Heat are 7-2 at home in the playoffs with loses to Chicago in game one of the Eastern Semifinals, and Indiana in game two of the Eastern Finals. San Antonio is 6-1 at home during the playoffs with lone setback game two against Golden State in the Western Semis. The Spurs have won two home postseason games in overtime. Miami holds home court advantage in the NBA Finals.
There is no doubt that San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is among the best tacticians in modern NBA history. In Tim Duncan, he has one of the great players in league annals, albeit at the age of 37. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have helped the Spurs lead the NBA in assists per game both during the regular season and playoffs. That being said, a superstar in his prime is hard to deny.
At 28 years old James seems destined to join Duncan among the best players in NBA history. Duncan is towards the end of a Hall of Fame career while LeBron is in his prime. Much like Magic, Michael, Larry, Bill and Kareem, superstars in their prime do what they must to win titles. In his time with Cleveland, playing without Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron simply didn't have enough help from his supporting cast. The Heat learned a big lesson about preparation and focus when they lost to Dallas in the Finals in 2011. Last year, after beating the Celtics in game six and seven of the Eastern Finals they steamrolled Oklahoma City. Coming off of a game seven victory over Indiana this year, it is Miami's title to lose.