Way back in 2007, the San Antonio Spurs reached the NBA Finals and coasted to a sweep against the Cleveland Cavaliers. When his team was healthy, head coach Mike Brown relied heavily on players like Eric Snow, Daniel "Boobie" Gibson and Drew Gooden. The final score of Game 4 was 83-82. Despite all these reasons, the 2007 Finals turned out to be one of the least-watched in NBA history, with ratings ranking somewhere between a 1am episode of Battledome and an XFL division final.
After Game 4, Tim Duncan pulled aside a plucky small forward named LeBron James to see what kind of plastic his vest was made out of. The following interaction occurred:
"This is gonna be your league in a little while," Duncan said before thanking LeBron for letting San Antonio "have this one". At the time people made little of Timmy's words, mostly because, as I said before, nobody was watching. Yet what he said indeed proved prophetic, as LeBron bolted from his hometown a few years later, joining forces with his rival and a Boshtrich in South Beach a few years later. The Heat have now won the last two NBA titles and look to use a third championship as more leverage to re-sign LeBron in the coming years.
The Miami Heat
Prediction: The Heat will win not one, not two but ZERO NBA championships this year
This doesn't mean the Heat aren't favorites to win it all this year -- and honestly I don't see how they wouldn't be. Anyone who thinks otherwise likely didn't watch LeBron last year. The man was simply on a mission, and word is he's even better this year. And there are few other people in the world who would be willing to try this in an NBA game (Javale McGee notwithstanding).
But in a numbers game, give me the field.
After all, this is a new year, which means the machinations of time are taking just as much a toll on Dwyane Wade's knees as they are on James' hairline. Deep down within that hollow cavity that is Pat Riley's chest, he knows this to be true.
The east is stronger, and most of the contenders have at least one anti-Lebron among their ranks. The Bulls' Jimmy Butler and the Pacers' Paul George are among the best wing defenders in the league and will no doubt have learned from Kawhi's locking down of James at times in the Finals.
That's why the team has taken to new diversions in case things don't work out this year - just look at the players they signed this offseason. The Miami front office clearly signed these guys for non-basketball reasons. Michael Beasley can help anyone on the coaching staff who might suffer from glaucoma. Roger Mason Jr. has two perfectly healthy kidneys in case either of head coach Erik Spoelstra's fails. And Greg Oden can help change the light bulbs at the American Airlines Arena.
I still expect LeBron to be LeBron this year, which should mean plenty of impressive numbers, jaw-dropping highlights and all in all world-class basketball. You know, if you're into that sort of stuff.
Yet there's reason to believe that the Heat could stumble this year in their attempt at a three-peat. The Spurs schemed well against them in the Finals and were painfully, terribly and unforgettably close to pulling off the upset. The east is also no longer the cakewalk it once was. The Pacers, Bulls and Nets are all legitimate threats to Miami, which means they should be challenged multiple times before even getting into the Finals.
Of course I could be wrong. In which case I have a few other predictions that can't miss:
Other Heat Predictions:
- LeBron will win his 4th MVP award.
- Michael Beasley will have a run-in with the law.
- Chris Bosh will flop. But you already knew that:
More from Pounding The Rock:
- J.R. Wilco talks about the Spurs backup point guards on The Phil Naessens show
- Preseason Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Orlando Magic
- Matt Bonner meets his shoe crisis head on, Twitter style
- Why Patty Mills should be the Spurs backup point guard
- Why Nando De Colo should be the Spurs backup point guard