The San Antonio Spurs shocked the Miami Heat in Game 1 of NBA Finals as they won on an acrobatic shot by point guard Tony Parker in the dying seconds. Coming in as the underdog, the Spurs continued their time and tested method of stifling defense and flawless execution as they rallied to stun the Heat.
Despite their similarities—both teams have been to the Finals a combined 9 times in the past 15 years—their differences are more obvious. For starters, the Spurs can be considered “homegrown.” Their Big Three—when the term was not yet as popular as now— have been together for over a decade and have won 3 championships over that time.
The Spurs have stuck to their core and their system and have always shunned the spotlight.
The Heat, meanwhile, have been in the spotlight since forming their own Big Three back in 2010. This is a team of superstars built with one single goal in mind —multiple championships.
Even if they won Game 1, the Spurs are still the underdog in this series. To my mind, the
Spurs can still upset the Heat due to the following reasons:
1) Experience—As mentioned earlier, the Spurs’ key players have been playing together for several years. They have been playing within the same system and the same coach. During that span, they have been victorious 3 times together (2003, 2005, and 2007). Also, the Spurs are hungrier. This may be the best and last chance of Tim Duncan (37) and Manu Ginobili (35). They won’t let this opportunity slip away.
2) Coaching—Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra can be considered an elite tactician but he holds no candle versus San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Pop is a master of on-court situations and also of thinking over the long-term. He can easily exploit the Heat’s weaknesses (e.g. interior defense) and turn these into points.
3) Wear and Tear—In terms of basketball mileage, the Spurs’ stars can be considered beat down jalopies but focusing on the present, they have a clear advantage. The Spurs have had a full 9 days rest while the Heat are coming off a gruelling 7-game series versus one of the league’s toughest defenses. Before that, the Heat had a tough series versus Chicago.
The Heat are worn down and everyone can see it. Dwyane Wade is playing with an injured knee while Chris Bosh is not a 100 percent. Additionally, the Spurs have a deeper bench and young role players.
4) Execution—The familiarity from years of playing together was very evident in Game 1. The Spurs committed only 4 turnovers to eke out a close win. They don’t turn the ball over and they are patient enough to get the best look in every possession. It is hard to win against a team that doesn’t make mistakes.
5) Tony Parker and Tim Duncan—Who is going to guard them? LeBron James can shutdown Parker but I don’t think Miami wants to expend the King’s energies on guarding him. Left unchecked, Parker will eat Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole alive. Duncan, even at his advancing age, is the best big man in this series (sorry Chris Bosh) and will allow the Spurs to dominate the inside game.