Game 1 Preview - San Antonio at Miami

Mike Ehrmann

The Spurs are back in the finals, and tonight they play the Miami Heat in the first game of what is sure to be an epic series.

San Antonio Spurs @ Miami Heat

American Airlines Arena
June 6, 2013, 8:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: ABC - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

So did everyone enjoy the time off? I don't know about you guys but I'm ready for some Spurs basketball. The good guys have had a lot of rest - so much so that many are predicting a ton of rust and an easy Heat win in this game. I am not one of the many.

What we know going in...

The regular season match-ups between these two teams effectively told us nothing about what we can expect to see in this series. But we learned quite a lot about having a sense of humor, i.e. we learned that Stern has none and Spoelstra does. We know that the Heat were better in the regular season but the Spurs have been better in the playoffs. We know that Miami has the number one offense in the playoffs and the Spurs have the number one defense. We also know that Miami's defense is ranked fourth during the playoffs and San Antonio's offense is ranked second. This might be important, I'll check back with you later on that.

We know that the Spurs were banged up for most of the regular season, but seem to be getting healthier now. We know that the Heat looked unstoppable for a long stretch in the regular season, but seem pretty banged up heading into this game.

Stuff we think we know...

While LBJ is the best player on the planet right now, Tony will be the second best player on the floor during this series and, depending on how injuries/health shake out, the Spurs might have numbers three and four as well. We all remember that in 2007 the Spurs proved pretty conclusively that their team concept would overcome any one star, no matter how talented. On the other hand, as LeBron himself has stated, he's "...50 times better" than he was in '07. But as we saw in the series against Indiana, as great as he is, LeBron still can't overcome playoff-caliber teams all by himself, and the Spurs play as a team better than -- well, anybody.

While nobody can completely shut LeBron down, the Spurs should have an easier time bothering him than the Heat will have of bothering Tony.

Intangibles and stuff...

Spoelstra is a darn good coach no matter how many times LeBron shoulders him as he walks off the court, but he's not as good as Popovich. I expect the adjustments, both in-game and as the series progresses, to favor the Spurs.

The Heat defense is largely predicated on being aggressive with the passing lanes. San Antonio's ball movement, when it's clicking, is second-to-none. If the Spurs are careful with the ball, and their shooters are knocking down open shots, this will be a fun series for a Spurs fan to watch. Dallas beat Miami two years ago by breaking through the Heat's pressure defense; the Spurs (and Tony Parker especially) are even more poised to do the same.

In the 2003 run, the Spurs' young guys (at the time Tony and Manu) got good a lot quicker than anybody expected. The same thing is needed this year from Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. A combination of bothersome defense and knocking down big shots from both these guys will be a key for San Antonio.

Size. the Spurs have it; Miami doesn't. As Popovich says all the time, "The stop hasn't happened until the rebound is secured." San Antonio needs to, and in fact should, win the battle of the glass.

And...oh yeah. Manu's feeling a lot better these days, and he will probably be important for the Spurs' chances of winning. Sarcasmometer alert!

Prediction...

In the last series, it felt like everybody was predicting that the Grizz would win in seven, even though the Spurs had the championship pedigree and HCA. I kept thinking, "Okay, maybe...MAYBE their defense is slightly better than ours. But our offense is way better than theirs. We win." Turns out it wasn't even close. As mentioned earlier, so far in the playoffs S.A. has the #1 defense and the #2 offense. The Heat have the #1 offense and the #4 defense. Add it all up, and 3 is better than 5 when it comes to rankings. (I double-checked this and am pretty sure my math is right.)

I'm going Spurs in six. Since the Heat haven't lost back-to-back games in 62+ games, I think the Spurs win this one, lose the next one, win two of three at home, then finish it in Miami. The good news is that, no matter what, there's no way this year's Finals end up as one of the lowest-rated in NBA history, and that's at least something.

Let's light this candle. Go Spurs Go!

Lineups

Starters
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Tim Duncan
C: Tiago Splitter

Key Bench Players
Manu Ginobili
Boris Diaw
Matt Bonner

Head Coach
Gregg Popovich

Lineups

Starters
PG: Mario Chalmers
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: LeBron James
PF: Udonis Haslem
C: Chris Bosh

Key Bench Players
Ray Allen
Norris Cole
Chris Andersen


Head Coach

Erik Spoelstra

Heat perspective can be found here: Hot Hot Hoops

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, and NBA league pass is recommended for those who are willing to pony up the cash. Almost every Spurs game will be broadcast there, which is especially helpful for those of us who aren't in the San Antonio area. Please don't post links to illegal game feeds in the game thread. Links to illegal feeds are not permitted on SBNation, but you can probably find them out there on the internets if you're resourceful and desperate.

Get your San Antonio Spurs tickets here!

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