After a seemingly eternal layoff for the Spurs, the NBA Finals finally begin tonight at 9pm EST. The age old question of rest vs. rust takes center stage – will the Spurs be fresh and reenergized, or will they be sluggish and sloppy? Meanwhile, can Miami replicate their smothering defense and laser-focus from Monday’s Game Seven, or will a long, taxing series against the Indiana Pacers have a hangover effect tonight?
This is what makes Game One of the NBA Finals so fascinating tonight. If Miami can replicate their effort and get the same scintillating performance from Dwyane Wade, they are nearly unbeatable. However, it is just the James Gang forced to go solo and carry the burden; if Bosh, Allen and Battier go back into hiding, it’s hard to see them beating the Spurs.
In the end, tonight comes down to homecourt advantage to me. I think this is going to be a long, deep series, and I want to see how some things match up on the court before making a series prediction. If forced, I’ll go Miami because of homecourt advantage, but I am really curious to see if the Spurs two bigs, who are as big but less physical than Indiana, can remove Bosh from the series as effectively. I do not think they will be able to.
I also want to see if anyone from Miami can stay in front of Parker. It sounds nice to say “just put Lebron on him” but aside from very brief stretches and big possessions, I don’t think Coach Spo can get away with the trickle-down matchup issues it will cause, let alone the fatigue factor of chasing around what might be the quickest player in the NBA.
Tonight’s pick is also made more interesting by the fact this will be the first time these teams legitimately play each other this season. The first time around, Coach Pop and the Spurs racked up a hefty fine for flying four non-injured starters back to San Antonio rather than attending the nationally-televised matchup in Miami (it was their fourth game in five days, but more it was Coach Pop giving a figurative middle-finger to the league and it’s scheduling!). Miami returned the favor in kind later in the season in San Antonio. The result is two teams that know each other only from film and several years ago in the regular season.
Because o f that lack of familiarity, the Heat’s home court and defensive ability, the layoff for the Spurs and a million other factors, I think this game stays in the high 80’s or low 90’s and comes in UNDER the 188.5 total. I lean towards Miami, but I am really interested to see the tone this series takes on.
In the meantime, I’ll bank on some sloppy play and some feeling out the opponent by each team keeping the scores down tonight.
Free Pick: Point TOTAL UNDER 188.5