I chose the Spurs to win in Six and it isn’t really a basketball reason. Or rather, maybe it is. It’s not easy to explain but what the hell, I’ll give it a go:
The Spurs are a family. The Spurs are one of the most envied teams in the NBA. This is because they operate as a family, with Coach Popovich acting as either strict headmaster or caring father figure. His compassion for his players is so well known the press does not pay attention to it anymore. They are a tight knit group with very few manpower changes that this fact gets overlooked. Other teams that want to implement the Spurs winning ways resort to raiding Popovich’s Assistant Coaches, so coaches like Mike Brown and more recently Mike Budenholzer (who will coach the Hawks) are always receiving job offers, with other teams hoping to implement what the Spurs have into their own system.
A tight knit group in itself does not necessarily translate to good basketball, but it does though lay the foundation for it. A team that acts like a family does away with all of those niggling issues that make groups of people that have to work together so dysfunctional. Issues like jealousy, no one talking to one another, petty fights, ego etc., that easily break teams are lessened if not done away altogether.
Make no mistake, there is no more sought after situation on a sports team than everyone being happy with where they are and who they’re playing with, and there is also no situation more rare. In the world of professional sports where everyone is just a piece of meat to be used and dealt away with, it is very difficult for a player to decide to take less money to play with a team he actually likes as opposed to another that will pay him more, and it is very easy for a general manager to decide not to invest time and effort on a talented but rough – around – the – edges player than just end his contract and save himself a headache.
It takes much long – term vision and commitment to produce a team that not only looks good on paper but will actually prefer to play together, even through ups and downs. The Spurs are such a team. They are a family, so they know trust each other and they are aware of what everyone can and cannot do. More importantly they have been at it so long that they are aware what they can do as a team. There is no doubt on anyone’s mind in that team that they are capable of becoming Champions this year. Miami? Not so much.
So yeah maybe we can go Xs and Os, and talk about the Spurs basketball superiority there as well.
– I always like teams that have a solid PG and C combo as opposed to a one man wrecking crew or even a ‘Big Three’, (unless of course two of those big threes are a PG and a C). These are basketball fundamentals at work here, and they ring true whether you’re playing the College or Pro game, whether you’re playing in the 1970s or 2013.
-Miami just does not have a good enough center. Joel Anthony is not that guy. Chris Bosh is really a big number 3. Chris Anderson is a PF, albeit a very good one, and is playing his heart out, but he is still not a center. If you think about it neither is Duncan, but he at least is 7 foot and is adept at acting like one. It’s no secret there is a dearth of Centers in the NBA and neither team has anything like say, a David Robinson or a Hakeem. But if you compare the two teams Duncan puts the Spurs ahead.
-The Spurs can play both slow and fast. Parker is just about as quick and wily as anyone in the league or anyone on Miami’s front court. Duncan as I just said, can slow it down and ‘fundamental’ his way to two points, either via a (now reliable) jumper or one of his twirling hooks, or even those bankshots he doesn’t do so much of anymore. Miami is a small ball team, constantly running and dizzying their opponents with their incredible speed and power. They can be negated somewhat because the Spurs can run too, and when the Spurs force a slow back to the basket game they are at a disadvantage.
– But finally, the biggest advantage I can think of really is the Spurs family. This gives them a confidence edge that just makes them unbeatable. I think it was 2007 when I saw them slapping high fives, smiling and excited coming out of the dugout to beat Utah when I first saw and realized this. That wasn’t a team thinking about plays, matchups or Xs and Os. That was a team that was excited to come out because they knew if they played the way they do they were on their way to getting it.
It’s only been Game 1. I’m not sure if this is the same Spurs as that one in 2007. But I certainly don’t see that happening with the Heat, while the Spurs can only get better.