Blogtable: A Finals Full Of Intrigue

Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Tim Duncan (Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE)

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


Week 32: The Heat turn it on | Game 1 lookahead | Finals intrigue


What intrigues you about these Finals? What will you be watching?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comThis is a Tim Duncan series for me. For one thing, seeing how Miami copes with and attacks the Hall of Fame-bound big man should mean great basketball — Duncan’s different from Indiana center Roy Hibbert, not as imposing at the rim, but he’s also the best and smartest big man the Heat will have faced in its three Finals trips. Then there’s just the sense that we all had better enjoy and remember Duncan’s game; he’s been so good so long that it’s easy to think he’ll stick around forever.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comHow Gregg Popovich defends LeBron James. After two breakout games by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson early in the Golden State series, Popovich came up with a plan to rein them in. Then, he drew up a defensive wet blanket to throw over the strong inside games of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol in the Memphis series. What can Pop do, not to stop LeBron, but get him out of a rhythm and put the burden back on Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh?

Jeff Caplan, NBA.comThe raw emotion. There’s so many storylines at play on both sides. You’ve got Tim Duncan at age 37 perhaps making his last trip to The Finals and Tony Parker‘s promise to get Duncan one more title. You’ve got Manu sort of struggling and Pop’s unwavering attachment to his Big Three and this great, proud Spurs organization that seemingly does everything the right way. Then there’s the always-scrutinized Heat, LeBron’s legacy, Wade’s legacy and the potential for this whole thing to come to and end next summer when LeBron, Wade and Bosh can all opt out. At times it gets so easy to pile on the Heat whenever they slip up and we begin to write their obituary, just as we have numerous times with the Spurs, rather than simply enjoying the process, enjoying an incredibly unique player and a team that has shattered conventional thinking. How these players react and respond to the highs and lows of each game and the plot twists between games, the intensity and the immediacy will be riveting.

Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

Chris Bosh, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade (Issac Baldizon/NBAE)

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.comWhat the Heat get — or don’t get from Dwyane Wade. There is a conversation to be had about Chris Bosh as well, but Wade is under particular scrutiny after his wobbly conference final. Have a series against the Spurs like Game 7 against the Pacers and Miami is closer to a title. Struggle, because of health issues or otherwise, and the Heat are that much more vulnerable.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comFirst, I’ll be watching the Spurs’ pick-and-roll offense vs. the Heat’s aggressive defense. But like everyone else, I’ll have Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on my radar. Wade brought a lot more energy and athleticism to Game 7 on Monday, but we just don’t know how often he can play like that. And Bosh obviously has to play bigger than he did in the last four games against Indiana, when he shot 8-for-34 and averaged just 5.0 rebounds. Miami’s defense and Wade’s offensive boards were enough to get past the Pacers, but LeBron James will need more help than that against the Spurs.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: We saw LeBron James and Kevin Durant do their thing in The Finals last season and it was everything we could have asked for. But LeBron’s matchup with Kawhi Leonard brings something completely different for the four-time MVP. We finally get to see him matched up against a guy who could provide the ideal foil to what LeBron likes to do, based on Leonard’s size, length, athleticism. Plus, it’ll be his primary objective will be to try to stop LeBron. It reminds me of some of the defensive matches Michael Jordan faced during his reign, when everyone from Hall of Famer Joe Dumars to John Starks to Gary Payton to Bryon Russell took turns trying to deny him his sweet spots on the floor. I’ll be curious to see if Leonard is up to the task or if he’s simply going to be another member of LeBron’s highlight reel.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: I’m really interested in seeing what Mario Chalmers brings to the series. The more I’ve watched him the more I’ve realized he is such a polarizing player — he either makes great plays or he makes mistakes and gets yelled at by LeBron and Wade. Tony Parker has played great of late, so if Chalmers can make him work even a bit defensively and wear him down, that could be huge. And can the Heat use Chalmers to defend Parker, or will they have to switch LeBron or Wade onto him to try and contain him?

Hanson Guan, NBA China: No doubt, I will be keen to see if James can eventually avenge the humiliation a half-dozen years ago. These Finals will be a defining moment in his career and a great opportunity for him to build his legacy (and the Heat dynasty). A defeat will smash any dream to outshine Michael Jordan, and may even make him a target of fans’ vitriol again. If he can defend the title and exact some revenge, James will reach the pinnacle of his career. This will also be a boost to his place in history. A duel which particularly intrigues me would be the one between Manu Ginobili and Dwyane Wade. Who will shine in The Finals?

Davide Chinellato, NBA Italia: I will focus in on two aspects: first of all, how Miami will handle the Spurs’ rebound advantage after they struggled so much against the Pacers. Tiago Splitter and Duncan are like Roy Hibbert and David West, plus the Spurs have a top-5 point guard, great perimeter shooters and solid backups. They can really hurt Miami. Second, I’ll watch how Kawhi Leonard will defend LeBron. Leonard is a potential star and this duel for him could be a breakout — or a sign that he’s not quite ready yet.

Selçuk Aytekin, NBA Turkiye: I feel like Manu Ginobili will be the star of The Finals, so I’ll keep my eyes squarely on him. I’m curious about Popovich’s defense strategy, in terms of how he’ll try to stop LeBron (and with whom). But mostly I will be watching Manu Ginobili.

77 Comments

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  2. darko says:

    Pop had some success with Diaw/Spliter picking up LBJ in an inverted kind of match up zone in the regular season, With better schooled rotations that could be a real tool in the arsenal.
    In my eyes, LeBron is like a great rookie point guard; can he take it to the next level? Incite some improv in his mostly stand around (spread the floor) teammates? i.e.get some better flow into the O?
    Heat could win with their fundamentals and 3rd perriod blitzkriegs.The Spurs will need some heroic efforts- but then these guys are noted for stepping up.
    Captain Jack is gone. He took exception to the raggedy play of the Gary Neal led second unit. Managment didn’t want Neal questioning his pre-programmed gunner’s role. Will he get much time against Cole at the point? Will he use what he gets to provide some fire? And Matt Bonner- who’s taken many of Jack’s minutes- how much respect will Spolestra be forced to accord him?

  3. Peezy says:

    If the Heat lose Game 1, I give it to the Spurs in 6.. If the Heat win Game 1 and lose Game 2 I think it will still go to the spurs in 6 games and if the Heat win Games 1&2 I give it to the heat in Game 7

  4. Peezy says:

    If Duncan wins another championship , He is going down as the best PF to play in the NBA for sure!!

  5. Sean says:

    What’ll be must see?? Four finals’ MVP’s going at each other’s throats each with a legacy to fight for. That is what’ll be must see

  6. robert says:

    I think that there is just alot of haters period. The spurs have won many titles..,,the haters hate the spurs because we don’t sale shoes, and don’t have street credit.,,who cares spurs have more bling than those “street creditable” guys don’t hate because your team can’t win championships and choke in the finals like the thunder*

  7. Viper33 says:

    I like Heat all the way in 6 games. I think SA is overrated, old and a good system team. Miami can kill you any number of ways. Let them pump up SA. Speed and talent vs experience and savy.

  8. lakers gaza says:

    i got no propblem with miami but get a allstar team together in the west too match up with them in the finals then we see who wins!

  9. Lawrence Joseph says:

    I think the heat will play a gr8 series

  10. djles73 says:

    People forget that TP only shines in this POs coz he had no match defencively.Heat are not Grizz or GS let alone LA when it comes to defending.If TP is such a force-he is a great player don’t get me wrong!-wha happened in the past 6 playoffs??Last year?OKC dominated them.So just careful about what TP may produce in the Finals.Duncan will be a much better match up fr Bosh/Wade/James.He not arim protector,inside force but doesn’t have the legs and simply the inside game that let’s say Roy Hibbert has.So it will allow them to penetrate more and play Heat basketball.It will be Miami in 5.

  11. J says:

    heat in 6!!!
    its gonna be epic!

    whats ginobili doing in that picture…

    • J says:

      duncan is like woah man what are u doing!
      and parker is thinking i only do the back at the locker room

      does any one get it

  12. Germany says:

    @Mr. China – agree with you 100%

    Don’t Ever Click…….is just a Heat hater but it’s OK. Way to put it ELE**

    @Ro – You are right. Leonard will not be able to stand the Lebron pressure for 7 Games and Bosh is the key.
    Lebron will be doubled in the Post. He must find the free man and he will. The free man has to make shots. Shooting 40% as a team against the Spurs won’t get it. The pick & roll defense on Tony Parker will work, Miami will push him way-out and the rotations become very important. Out of the pick & roll Lebron will go directly to the basket without delay or hit the jump shot.

    As Mr. China said, this Championship will give Lebron a closer step towards M.J. This is also revenge for Lebron, the same as it was revenge for Dirk Nowitski, or??

    Duncan and Splitter are not Hibbert and West: Duncan will not have the presence in the paint that Hibbert had. Ducan will not have the minutes Hibbert had. The challenges at the rim will be more fouls than blocks for Duncan and Splitter. Birdman and Haslem will be able to deal with Splitter, whereas West was a handful. I think Indiana posed a bigger problem in protecting the paint. The Spurs and Miami have similar games. @Phil – you’re right.

    If, Miami plays like they did in Game 7 against the Pacers, their defense (that is their identity) they will win this series in 7 Games. The 66-16 record was good for something this year. Home court advantage proves to be important this year.

    Miami will win game one tonight. If, they win game 2, they will win 1 in Texas and close it out at home. If, Miami loses game 2, they will win 1 in Texas and will have to win two in a row at home which will be incredible because everybody will have counted them out. What do you have HISTORY M.J. here we come. The storyline for next year the “Threepeat” is overwhelming. The Heat stay together, the NBA makes a lot of money and the interest stays high from the public.

  13. Yankuba saidykhan says:

    I DON’T KNOW WHY PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO MAKE A SERIES OUT OF THESE TWO TEAMS.I QUESS JUST TO BRING EXCITMENT TO THE FINALS.BUT EVERY ONE ALREADY HONESTLY KNOW THIS ISN’T THE FINAL WE ALL HAD HOPED FOR.THE SPUR ARE HERE THANKS TO WESTBROOK’S INJURY.THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE.THIS FINALS IS AN OBVIOUS HEAT TRIUMPH

    • PAcersCards says:

      Oh, wow! Somebody has dare to go there! Look, SA is a great team, but, and please be objective here… have they really defeated any physical tough team? Memphis did not showed up on that series, and frankly it was very pathetic after they bullied the Clippers. SA coasted the LAL, that did not deserved that spot, or even a playoffs ticket. One game they played without Nash, Blake, Kobe, Metta! So let put that Lakers team against the injured plagued Bulls the Heat faced. The tough defensive minded, well coached Bulls team that defeated the talented Nets. No question Miami had a tougher series. Indiana brought it all to the court. They had the size that bothered the Heat, and the toughness that matched the Bulls. How many times in the SA/Memphis series was there an altercation? Memphis played right onto SA game plan. GS size and speed managed to give SA a challenge… and that was GS. Imagine what the Heat will do against SA defense. I would have preferred to see SA go thru Denver to have a better grasp on how well they are playing. Then again it is the same thing with the Heat, clobbering the Bucks. I think it will take 6 games to decide which style will prevail.

  14. ginebra heat says:

    too many bandwagonners here. most people that root for the SPURS are just fans of teams that the HEAT was eliminated

  15. T-mac 4 Finals MVP says:

    It is interesting to see how James will match up against the Greatest of All Time McGrady

  16. Silver says:

    I was hoping to read Akshay Manwani in this Blogtable!
    A funny guy. :)

    btw, he predicted Memphis will represent the West in the Finals, and the Spurs will “run out of steam” in the playoffs.
    I wonder what he’s thinking about the Finals right now. Maybe unfavorable to the Spurs again…

  17. iCeChuCk says:

    main difference thru this FINALS is coaching.. Coach Pop vs. Coach Spo? best coaching will prevail.. that would be the SPURS…. period!!!!

    • PAcersCards says:

      I don’t know man, I think Spo is younger, more athletic than Pop. Also, I am pretty sure that Pop has knee problems.

      • JR818 says:

        Really wow u call get the ball to lebron coaching spo is a joke of a coach who just happened to get the easiest job in the world pat riley said here i got all these superstars for u now just sit back and enjoy the ride

  18. christian says:

    wow..who said parker is stronger than chalmers?lol WTF is he talking about?a french delicate guy compairing to an african american guy..just WOW…

  19. You Will Remember this name after this 2013 Finals:

    Giiinnnooobbiiillliiiiii !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Mamba talks says:

    I think Heat has the edge, but I really like Tim Duncan, he’s one of my favorite player of all time

  21. benny says:

    go spurs ,ginobliiiii

  22. dylan19 says:

    God…Please bring Duncan another more Champ…Spurs Another Champ…

  23. lukas mwanthi says:

    am glad that the heat cannot in this years final atleast shoot themselves into a title since they meet at a team that can match them shot by shot. the spurs are a great shooting side and just like the heat it could be anyones or everybodys night! so let the games begin.

  24. Paopao says:

    Pop plays T-Mac and he responds with quality minutes.

  25. Brad says:

    Boring. Just boring.

  26. Andrew says:

    Steve Aschburner needs to be kicked of the site for saying, “(Duncan is) the best and smartest big man the Heat will have faced in its three Finals trips”. Dirk kicked the Lakers, Thunders, and Heats butts on the way to his championship and was the best player in the world for the entire playoffs.

    • Michael says:

      Dirk is a tall man, but he plays like a small forward. Duncan is a 4/5, and one of the all-time greats at his position.

      • PAcersCards says:

        Duncan is just doing his job, puts the numbers that the team needs. Quietly. Think about it, someone has to get the rebounds and take the shots. Duncan’s most dominant playoffs performance was stop by the Lakers and Derek Fisher’s .04 shot at the buzzer. Duncan is great, but he did not dominate all the way like Dirk did. The only one that helped Dirk on the clutch was JJ Barea, the others just relied on Dirk’s shoulders to carry the team. (Jason Terry’s sporadically making shots does not count as being dominant). I have seen Tony Parker take the team and a whole Finals on his shoulders. He must repeat as Finals MVP if they want that ring.

  27. Tae says:

    Pop told me over the phone that T-Mac will defend against LBJ!!! How are you going to deal with that!!!

  28. Tae says:

    Pop told me over the that T-Mac will defend against LBJ!!! How are you going to deal with that!!!

  29. Arnold P says:

    It’s the Finals, time for Lebron to get nervous again. The HEAT will find the SPURS’ steady nerves too much. SPURS in 5

    • PAcersCards says:

      Yep, LeBron will be as nervous has he was against Boston, Chicago, OKC and Indiana. It is called learning! Why do you think he didn’t delivered against Dallas? The pressure is gone after winning last year. Nothing else to learn.

  30. Dew says:

    Ginobili!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. raw says:

    Watch Miami cheat again in the Finals.

  32. Lebron James says:

    I like to thank the refs for rigging the ECF for us and the Finals for our repeat ahead of time after all they’re on our teams payroll.

    • PAcersCards says:

      Are you talking about the same ref that helped Indian extend the series to 7 games? Refs are on Stern’s payroll, don’t doubt it!

  33. NBA reality says:

    D.Wade gon take it all folks.. daz a promise

  34. Ace says:

    How many times will Lebron flop in the series?

    • imaspursfan says:

      it would be an all time high i guess. cmon, its the finals! im not a hater, no buts.. lebron is a flopper so as the whole heat team.. they play so much small ball they just resort to flopping at times to stop the other teams momentum and somehow they always get the benefit of most of the calls.. i just wish the league start handing suspensions for players who flops so much.. flopping has been a game changer and it still would be if the league wouldnt do anything to monitor it..

    • PAcersCards says:

      As many as Ginobili!!!!!

  35. Julio says:

    I want to see Pop suddenly unleash T-Mac, who then proceeds to drop 35 points a game for the series.

    It won’t happen, but it would sure be frickin’ funny.

  36. HIYA says:

    What’s really fascinating is that both teams have two Finals MVPs’. Both teams are very different but both are similar too. In their season match ups, both teams did not play key players and that got some pretty interesting results. This is going to be an awesome NBA Finals

  37. Conlin says:

    Go Spurs GO

    SPURS ALL THE WAY

  38. murlocjoe says:

    I’ll be looking to enjoy what I think will be a very good series… of course rooting for the Spurs!
    But so many stories to go around.
    The Spurs built on the back of late draft picks and one great PF. Solid bench and veteran poise.
    The Heat built by MasterCard. LeBron James is a great player no matter how you feel about him you cannot disrespect that fact. Solid bench with key intangibles.

    Win or lose for either team should not deter from either franchise…
    the Spurs … 3 decades as a finals contenders in the Western Conf.
    the Heat … this is their 3rd straight trip to the finals.

    Good Luck to both teams…stay healthy.

  39. Grapefruit juice says:

    I don’t see why everyone moan about Ginobili not playing good. Come on folks he won first match in the semis and puts quite good numbers as for 25 minutes per game.

  40. Jintan says:

    I feel like either Manu or Kawhi will “Explode” in the finals and play an amazing series.

  41. Phil says:

    I think the focus should be on how Miami can contain Tony Parker. If they can keep him out of the paint and close out on corner 3’s Miami should be able to win.

  42. Miami Heat Fan says:

    It’s pay back time for Lebron James and there’s no stopping it. He will not let Parker, Ginobli and even Duncan dominate the game. His all around player now. He will make his sweet revenge. Heat will repeat. :-)

    • WOW says:

      Lebron is an all around player? lol

      • Leo N says:

        lol? i am not a lebron fan but, if you don’t think lebron is not an all-around player, then i wonder what game are you watching? i am not even going to make this argument. i’ll just let the facts state them for you. all defensive team and mvp. have played pg, forward and center. defneded the best pg, forward and big man in opposing teams

      • CRAZYFUN says:

        YEAH, I agree with WOW… I’m a die hard SPURS FAN but even I know Lebron is an all around player… BUT he will still loose! Sorry :-(

      • Chris says:

        You don’t think Lebron is an all around player? Please tell me you’re joking; otherwise I wonder what planet you are on.

  43. joel says:

    I think that the key of this serie is Tony Parker : he’s too strong for Chalmers. This guy is a killer, born to win. I knew him since he was playing in France (i’m french too) and he always had the will to bring his team to victory. Wade is tired, Bosh is definitively a joke and Lebron will have some difficulties against Leonard.
    So go SPURS and TP !!!!!!

  44. ene be a says:

    It IS Lebron James and D Wade finals. Lebron is ready and now have the team for the payback… 2007 will not happen again.

  45. mattchew says:

    give leonard credit!!! he is on the biggiest stage!! something he knows he would like to show his dad that always watching him!!! go get it kid

  46. Ro says:

    Leonard is a very good young player. But he wont have the stamina to contain LeBron. He hasnt faced anything like him in the playoffs yet. Warriors perimeter players are very good, but LeBron’s size AND speed will be too much. Bosh is the key. If he is playing center and Duncan is defending him, he needs to hit jumpers and drive on Duncan. If he can be high-scoring, the Heat will win

    • toms says:

      lebron might be the best player in the league but do not underestimate the defense of the new bruce bowen with skills of the spurs lol…

    • LEBRON FAN#1 says:

      I agree with you, Bosh has to be at his very best with Duncan.

  47. Josh says:

    It seems you guys are missing the intangibles. Basketball is a team game. the heat and the spurs both have the intangibles birdman=hussles & energy, splitter=quality minutes and the rest of the bench of both teams thats what i will watch. It’s time for these “intangibles” to shine. The big three of both teams are already a given.

    • Bonner = Superb 3 Pointer
      Gary Neal = A Great Scorer
      Patti Mills = Star Player Of Australian Team
      Boris Diaw = Former most improved player
      T-Mac – Former scoring champ
      Blair and DeColo – Solid Players

      now tell me which team is deeper ;)

      • ele says:

        ray allen = greatest three point shooter in the league
        shane battier = amazing defender
        Norris cole : amazing defender, (he can hit the three)
        Birdman Andersen = Rebounder, energy player, (went 16 for 18 last series)
        Udonis Haslem = rebounder, defender, baseline mid range (went 8 for 9 shooting in 2 games last series)
        MIke miller = was one 3 point fg away from breaking the record for most three pointers in last years finals
        Joel anthony = rebounder and rim protector
        James jones = dead eye three point shooter
        Rashard lewis = three point shooter, post game, (averaged 19 points in the 2009 nba playoffs)
        and finally varnado
        lmaooo both teams have deep benches its gonna be a fun series.

      • National says:

        @Ele, and Never blablabla,

        Which bench performed better, I’m not saying what legacy are they bringing but what did they do the past 3 weeks. I mean some player didn’t even play. Some played for around 5 min a game a performed solidly.

        But all in all I think this would be an entertaining series.

      • PAcersCards says:

        Everything was fine until you go ahead and put Patti Mills in your comment. A star player in Australia… who gives a down-under about that!? T-Mac… how many points he scored for SA this year in the regular season and the playoffs? LOL! Just by mentioning all SA players does not mean they have a deep bench. Both teams are going to the fight with equal numbers of players. Please…

    • jonathan says:

      I’m a nuggets fan and I used to like birdman a lot, but for all of the heat fans out there…..he isn’t that good, and it will show this series.