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Nancy Lieberman
June 5

An In-Depth Breakdown Of NBA Finals Matchup

I think from a fan's perspective, you always want the defending champion to be back and see if they can defend their title. With the way the series ended – with Ray Allen hitting that shot – karma played out like it was supposed to with the Spurs and the Heat back in the Finals.

The Spurs wanted to get back and get redemption. I did over 90 games this season and throughout the year, my first thought (when talking about the 2013 Finals), was that the Spurs were two free throws away from winning the Championship. If those free throws were made, Ray Allen's shot would have been irrelevant in the history of the NBA. 

You win or lose games based on the ability to make a foul shot.  Early in LeBron's career, when people were saying "LeBron or Kobe?", I would say Kobe. At the end of the day, I'll take Kobe's 80 percent free-throw shooting percentage to LeBron's 70-something percent. The details will matter in this series.

Miami is an interesting team. They can switch 1 through 5 (except when Chris Andersen is in the game), and they have length and athleticism. They don't get the credit they deserve. People say they are just a bunch of athletes, but that's not true. They are some of the highest IQ players in the history of the game. Wade, LeBron and Bosh are such highly intellectual players, and they have players around them who are smart. They are not just a bunch of young athletes winning games. So it's easy to discredit them, but that's a disservice to how hard this Miami Heat team prepares for success. 

Conversely, the Spurs are not just a bunch of old guys. Ginobili, Parker and Duncan are three of the most finely conditioned athletes in the world. I don't care how old they are; they have taken care of their bodies. And when you put the young players around them, I believe it matches up really well. 

The Spurs are the best scoring team in the first 5 seconds in the shot clock and the last 5 seconds of the shot clock because of their precision execution. They are a precision team on offense and defense, and they know rotation. They are disciplined and they know where they are supposed to be at all times. If you are an offensive team, and you are good at reversing the ball, you will give the defense a chance to break down. If you kick the ball to one side of the floor, you make the team invincible because they don't have to move too much. 

Nobody in the league is a better passing team than the Spurs. They have made the secondary pass a highlight.  They manipulate you so well off the pass and the dribble that you are always in chase mode, chasing a guy on the opposite side of the floor. He takes one or two dribbles and kicks it to the other player. They have mastered the drive/pass/ pass combination, so they pull you into your room and take you out of your room. They push you into the paint and pull you out of the paint. It creates space and gaps, and when Ginobili sees gaps, he's going to take you to the rim. The Spurs just dominate teams with the second-line rotation. And somebody is always helping the helper. 

With all this basketball coaching verbiage that I'm throwing out there, it's going to be a great series. And it's going to be even more fun for the players. As an athlete, when someone said I was overrated, it made me lock in mentally. The Heat players have got to be tired of hearing that the Spurs lost last year instead of how Miami won last year's Championship. 

People are human, that stuff bothers you. I don't care how many times LeBron and the guys say it doesn't bother them, they are champions and everybody is talking about the team that lost. That bothers you.

I believe that the Spurs will win at home tonight and that the home court is going to mean something in this series. I will be watching every game. I love the NBA game so much, and to see to the greatest athletes in the world compete on the biggest stage for the biggest prize...I am overly excited!


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