When the 2013 NBA playoffs began, there were 16 teams positioned to make a run for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Now we are down to the final four — San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
The Western Conference Finals saw the Spurs’ big 105-83 win over Memphis in game one, while the champion Miami Heat will start Wednesday with Indiana in the Eastern Conference.
The Heat are in the Eastern Finals for the third year in a row. It just so happens that this is the third year of the decision that brought LeBron James to Miami.
They rolled through the regular season 66-16 and are 8-1 in the playoffs. They are heavy favorites to reach the NBA Finals for the third straight season.
Indiana has the worst record of the four teams left at 49-32, but they play a physical, tough brand of basketball that should challenge the Heat. James has been MVP of this league now four times in the last five years.
Who do you think represents the greatest challenge to a Heat repeat, the Spurs, Grizzlies or Pacers? Since 1999, the Spurs have won four NBA titles and beat James 4-0 in the 2007 Finals when he was with Cleveland.
Memphis has the best defensive team, allowing an average of just 89 points per game. They have a powerful inside game with great guard play.
Indiana is also a great defensive team with a physical presence that beat Miami twice in three games during the regular season. I want to see if Indiana and their rugged style can match up with the Heat. The first two games of the Eastern Finals should answer many questions.
I have long been a fan of the Spurs and the way they go about their business: the way they share the ball and dictate the tempo of the game, how they attack on offense with Tony Parker, and how defensively they take you out of whatever you try to do.
Let’s enjoy the Western and Eastern Finals — clearly anything can happen. However, I have a feeling it will be San Antonio vs. Miami in the NBA Finals. We will soon see.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.