So how did San Antonio do against the Best of the East?
The Spurs lost at Miami (105-100) and at home (88-86), and won at Indiana (104-97) and at home over the Pacers (101-79).
Don’t read too much into the two games against Miami, as the Spurs rested four starters in the first meeting and Miami was without LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers (all out with injuries) in the rematch.
Some trends to keep in mind: The Spurs are 8-17 ATS against a team with a winning percentage above .600 and 6-14 ATS playing on one day’s rest. The Heat are 17-5 ATS on the road against a team with a winning home record.
For totals players, the UNDER is 12-3 for San Antonio on the road, Miami is 9-1-1 OVER on one day’s rest. Let the games begin!
The each of the last two years was supposed to be the year the kids stepped up in Miami and Oklahoma City and started a new era in the NBA Finals.
Well, Miami came close in 2011, carving out a 2-1 series lead before collapsing, but it was those old fogies in Dallas who came away with the title – another veteran team winning the whole thing. Last year Oklahoma City stepped into that role, winning Game 1 of the Finals…then the more experienced Heat smoked them the next four games to win LeBron’s first title.
The truth is, veteran NBA teams have been on a roll. The Spurs won it all in 2007, the Celtics in 2008, the Lakers in 2009-10, the old Mavericks in a surprising 2011 run before Wade grabbed his second ring alongside LeBron. King James is now 28 and a 10-year NBA veteran. So much for the youth movement in the Finals!
Last year the young Thunder certainly looked lost and overwhelmed as the Heat ran circles around them. While the NBA is more of an athletic game primed for young legs, the experience of the 2011 Mavericks and 2012 Heat certainly helped them.
At some point age can work against a team, breaking down from injuries like the Celtics and Lakers. This postseason the Final Four found a pair of young teams (Grizzlies, Pacers) against the veterans (Spurs, Heat). The Spurs copied the Celtics’ strategy the last few years by taking the final month of the regular season off to get healthy.
There really haven’t been many youthful teams winning the NBA title lately. The Celtics and Lakers were veteran teams that clashed in the Finals in 2008 and 2010.
The experienced Lakers topped the young Orlando Magic in 2009, blowing out the kids in Game 1, 100-75. Prior to that veteran teams like the Spurs, Pistons and 2006 Miami Heat won titles.
Ahh, the Miami Heat. They really aren’t that youthful, with James the only kid at age 28. He’s also been in the NBA Finals in 2007 with Cleveland. Wade (age 31) already has a ring with the 2006 Heat, a veteran team that also had Shaq, Antoine Walker and Gary Payton.
One thing that stands out with the NBA’s Final Four of 2013 is defense, something that is always valuable this time of the year. The Grizzlies were No. 1 during the regular season in points allowed, the Spurs No. 11, the Heat No. 5, while the Pacers were tops in the NBA in field goal shooting defense and from three-point land.
This shouldn’t surprise. A year ago Miami was fourth in the NBA in points allowed and fifth in field goal shooting defense. Two years ago they were sixth in points allowed during the regular season. Eventual champion Dallas was No. 10; Miami was second in field goal defense (.434%), while Dallas was No. 8 (.450%).
Jim Feist, author and leader in sports information for over 40 years, hosts TV’s Proline as well as running National Sports Services since 1975. Follow him on twitter: @JimFeistSports . Reach him at [email protected]