What could make it even more enjoyable? How about a super competitive classic NBA Finals?
We have a finals match-up! While I think we would’ve liked to see the Knicks vs. the Warriors (and how insane that would’ve been), but a Heat vs. Spurs finals has all kinds of storylines that can make it interesting.
First things first though, what the hell happened to our pick of the Grizz beating the Spurs? The Spurs scoffed at us.
Jay: Can a team with three Hall of Famers who have won 50 plus games a season for over a decade be underrated? The Spurs somehow shut down the Grizzlies’ huge front line, exposing their biggest weakness; outside shooting.
Big Money: I will answer that question intelligently and succinctly-I don’t fuckin’ know.
The Spurs surprised me, for sure.
GG: In hindsight, I think I expected the Spurs to fall off when it counted again. But they did just the opposite. They turned it up and ran the Grizz of the court.
This postseason, the Spurs have lost just two games (to those spunky Warriors). From 1999 to 2007, they won four NBA titles. Since then, they’ve had two Western Conference finals losses, but also, two first round exits. Making it back to the NBA Finals with those same three Hall of Famers is a terrific feat. Has it ever happened before?
On the other hand, Miami is in year three of their run and three NBA Finals appearances in a row. Many thought it would’ve been their easiest run yet, but they ran up against an Indiana team who played them brilliantly even in losing.
I think the storylines are fantastic and there will be drama. Do you have a favorite storyline for either team?
Jay: There are good story lines on both sides. If Miami wins, they have the makings of a dynasty and it will give some credence to the LeBron vs. Jordan argument. If they lose, they may be headed for a good ‘what if’ story, like ‘what if Wade stayed healthy’ or ‘what if Chalmers didn’t peak at age 25′. A loss will also make LeBron 1-3 in the finals which to me would end any and all Jordan comparisons.
A Spurs’ win would give Duncan his 5th ring in five tries and cement his standing as a top three (maybe even higher) power forward as well as evening the team of the 2000s race with the Lakers. Ginobili is a borderline Hall of Famer and a huge series could push him over the top (same with Parker). Not as much to lose for the Spurs if the Heat beat them, but in my book a lot more to gain.
Big Money: This is true.
I don’t know that Miami is capable of dynasty-status. I don’t think the team stays together past this season or next.
Besides, Wade is aging way faster than anyone thought he would.
GG: I was going to get to that in a bit, but let’s discuss it now.
I believe both Wade and Bosh have player options of over $20 million a piece for the next two years. They’re not opting out. So the only way this team won’t be together for the next two years is if they trade them, or if LeBron decides to leave, which can totally happen.
If the Spurs pull it out, do the Heat make a trade to try and get LeBron to stick around? Will this team be intact next season if they can’t win it again?
Jay: I wouldn’t be surprised if Wade realizes he’s going to break down soon and opts out so he can get one last long-term contract. If he doesn’t opt out and breaks down in that final year, it could cost him tens of millions. Either way I don’t think Miami trades Wade, either because of loyalty for helping assemble the team or because they can’t get equal value because of his health concerns. That would leave Bosh. I guess they could try to trade him for two assets since the rest of the supporting cast could use an upgrade but it would be really hard to break up this core considering they did this. I say the team stays intact.
Big Money: If The Heat doesn’t win it all, the team will be at least partially disassembled. I don’t think any of the “big 3″ leaves, but the supplemental cast will definitely require an upgrade.
GG: Me too. But those player options could be a killer. I say Bosh is traded win or lose. I don’t see LeBron sticking around with a depleted “big 3″.
You can spit shine that bench but the fact of the matter is, with 60-66 million tied up into 3 guys, there’s very little left over. That’s another reason why I think Bosh could be traded.
Jay mentioned this earlier. With a win, that gives Duncan five titles. Most already think he’s the greatest power forward of all-time. Where would you rank him as far as greatest players of all-time with a win? And would you have him higher than Kobe?
Jay: I think I would put him 5th all time behind Jordan, Kareem, Russell, Wilt and Magic, passing Bird with a win. I still think Bird was better in his peak but Duncan’s longevity puts him over the top. I’d already put him ahead of Kobe win or lose. As good as LeBron and Durant are, they still have a lot to accomplish before they break into this group.
Big Money: Wow. 5th all time? I dunno.
Let’s take into account that Duncan has always had a superior supporting cast and a fantastic coach.
In terms of accomplishments, he’s up there. He’s certainly an incredibly talented dude. I don’t know about #5, though…
I’d definitely put Bird ahead of him, and I say that as someone who’s never really been a Larry Bird fan.
Jay: I thought about it and I agree Bird should be ahead of Duncan.
GG: I think Duncan has to be top ten peaking into the top five. Damn a supporting cast. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen on all of his championship winning teams. Magic Johnson had Kareem, Big Game James, and studs coming off the bench who could start for other teams and came to LA for titles. Bird/McHale/Parrish/DJ/Ainge – enough said.
Here’s how I’d rank them: MJ, Russell, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Wilt, Duncan – Kobe is right there after. But you know what, LeBron is now peaking into that top 10. If he wins title number two, he’s a lock for the top 12. Title number 3 down the line, I’d rank him higher than Kobe.
Jay: GG, I agree with your list with the exception of possibly swapping Kareem and Russell, but that’s really splitting hairs at this point.
Speaking of LeBron, where do you rank LBJ at this point?
Jay: I’d put LeBron top fifteen. That killer instinct is troubling. He came through last year but has had some very curious series like that Boston series where it looked like he just quit. That keeps him out of the too 10. For now. He’s behind Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaq and right in the mix with Kobe, John Havlicek, Dr. J, Moses, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett.
Big Money: I don’t know where exactly, but he’s up there.
I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: the one thing that separates LeBron from Kobe/Jordan is that superhuman drive. From a skill set standpoint, he’s as good as either of them (and Magic) but those guys had a pathological will to win.
GG: I think that’s fair.
But isn’t this thing where LeBron doesn’t have the will to win just a media creation at this point?
People will bring up that game against Boston and that was an awful game for him. But have you seen some of those Kobe close out performances when his team is getting their tails kicked? There have been some appalling ones.
And as far as winning, here’s something that might surprise you:
Regular season winning percentage for LeBron: .646
Regular season winning percentage for Kobe: .652
And that’s with Kobe playing next to the greatest player in the league for the first eight years in his career.
Okay, let’s get to the nuts and bolts of this thing. Make a case for the Spurs winning their fifth title since 1999.
Jay: The Spurs go ten deep and have four big men that can all ball. This will be like playing the Pacers, only if they had a really good bench and also didn’t turn the ball over 15-20 times a game. They move the ball around better than anyone in the league which will either lead to a bunch of wide open shots or some very tired Heat players. The Spurs also happen to have the best coach in basketball who has had over a week to analyze every asset of the Heats game.
Oh and Tony parker is playing the best ball of his career and the Heat have…Chalmers.
GG: Tim Duncan owns the post. Manu turns back the clock. Tony Parker continues to have a fantastic playoff. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard trade off games to give them a productive fourth player offensively. And Wade is too tired from chasing everyone.
How do the Heat win? Do you believe in the theory that the best player in the series wins? If LBJ is the best player in the series, do the Heat win?
Jay: LeBron has already lost twice in the finals so I don’t believe the best player always wins. How do they win? I dont think it has only to do with LeBron. He’s going to be amazing. The questions to ask are will Wade and Bosh be healthy enough to play at an All-Star level, will Battier and Allen find their stroke, will Birdman continue to shoot 100%, and can they contain Parker?
Big Money: What Jay said.
GG: I think Bosh has to play huge. If he can draw Duncan out, Duncan might get tired. But defensively, he has to play well. He has to think like a big and rebound. One of their role players will need to be able to stretch out the Spurs defensively like the Warriors were able to do early in the series. If they can, it will open it up for LeBron to do more work.
Okay, predictions time.
Give me your winner, how many games it takes, and your finals MVP.
Jay: Spurs in six – Duncan MVP.
Big Money: Spurs in six – Tony Parker MVP.
GG: Heat in seven – LeBron James MVP.