Thanks to Donald Sterling, the banned-for-life LA Clippers’ owner, these NBA Finals will be the most overshadowed Championship Series ever, even though we have a rematch of last year’s Finals when the Miami Heat beat San Antonio four games to three to repeat as NBA Champions.
The Eastern Conference was a fraud this year, and because of it the Heat stand in position to win a third-straight title, barely having broken a sweat to reach their fourth-straight Finals by sweeping Charlotte 4-0, taking down Brooklyn 4-1, and beating Indiana 4-2, having to overcome only a blow in the ear.
The Heat join the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers as the only franchises to have reached the NBA Finals four years in a row. Led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat have delivered for Miami and are in pursuit of a three-peat.
When these playoffs began, 16 teams started on a mission to win the NBA Championship. Seven teams from the rugged Western Conference won 50 or more games. Dallas grabbed the eighth spot with a very respectable 49-33 mark. The Mavericks, you might recall, are the last NBA team to beat Miami in the Finals. Only Indiana and Miami were able to win 50-plus games in the Eastern Conference.
This would indicate that the Heat’s road to the Finals was smooth with no potholes or bumps. Miami was 12-3 reaching the Finals. The Spurs, on the other hand, had to navigate through Dallas, Portland,
and talented Oklahoma City with league scoring champion and MVP Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
If it’s possible that the two best teams in basketball have already played Oklahoma City and the Spurs, these Finals could be a let-down.
Numbers usually don’t lie. Miami is 66-31 including playoffs while the Spurs are 74-26. Miami’s point differential was just +4.8; the Spurs were +7.7, the best in basketball. Spurs Coach Greg Popovich, winner of four NBA titles, is your 2014 NBA Coach of the Year. The Spurs seemed to leave no stones unturned in getting back to the Finals.
Unlike last year, this Spurs team has the home-court advantage against Miami, and Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli feel they did not finish the job in last year’s Finals. The Spurs have won four NBA titles, and this is the first time they have ever returned to the Finals in back-to-back years. They are motivated to take down the Heat.
Sometimes you have to be careful what you ask for, but this Spurs team is here because of last year’s failure to finish. And the feeling is that the Spurs are too deep and talented for the Heat in 2014. We will surely see. I’m taking the Spurs four games to two.
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.
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