Like last year, the NBA Finals gives us a matchup between the best player in the world against the most complete team in the league.
Expect it to go the distance, but with a different ending.
The Spurs and Heat will go seven games, but this time it’ll be Tim Duncan and Co. lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the Alamo City. And expect Duncan to have one final push for ring No. 5, and it will be a well-deserved one.
Duncan joined the Spurs in 1997, and with all due respect to The Admiral and The Iceman, he will go down as the most accomplished and best player ever to suit up in silver and black.
But it was his misses that haunted the Spurs in 2013. With San Antonio trailing Miami 90-88 in Game 7, Duncan missed 4-foot hook shot and putback attempt over a shorter defender that would have tied the game with around 48 seconds remaining.
Duncan has made those shots a hundred times in his career, especially during crunch time in the postseason.
But at 38 years old, the man who is arguably the greatest power forward in the history of the game, is averaging 16.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in the postseason. Those may be below his career playoff averages, but I can count on Duncan to put together a couple of game-winning type of performances like he did in Game 7.
The Heat has the Big 3, but they don’t have Mike Miller this time around.
Miller’s stats may not be impressive, except when you take into account how he torched the Spurs. He averaged 5.3 points per game but shot 61 percent from 3-point range in the NBA Finals against San Antonio.
That created space for LeBron James to drive and Chris Bosh to waste his 6-foot, 11-inch, 235-pound frame on jump shots.
And the Spurs offense is just as balanced and focused as ever. Tony Parker leads the team with 17.2 points per game, but Duncan (16.5), Manu Ginobili (14.3) Kawhi Leonard (13.3) and Boris Diaw (10.0) aren’t far behind.
And when you watch the Spurs move the ball around like a pin ball, you can understand why they are so balanced.