The 2012-13 NBA season is nearing an end. In this year’s finals, the Miami Heat square off against the San Antonio Spurs. Below we’ll take stock of the BSB(R) standings, review the conference finals matchups, and preview the rest of the NBA Finals.
The BSB(R) Tournament: Where We Stand after the Conference Finals
In case you didn’t realize from the above chart, this year’s BSB(R) winner is actually already decided–last year’s winner Dan “Big Purple” Leifer will repeat as the 2013 champion. Congrats to Big Purple! Last year’s BSB(R) Finals MVP was Sam Shin (a mutual friend who failed to make picks), but I’ll wait to determine this year’s winner until the NBA Finals are over. Suffice to say, I’ll have to throw in a curve ball. In addition, I’ll wait to rank the 20 participants until the Finals are over.
Reviewing the Conference Finals
Heat-Pacers: In a rematch of the 2012 Eastern Semifinals, the Heat and Pacers met again for a second consecutive epic series. Unlike last year, the Heat had Chris Bosh and the Pacers didn’t have Danny Granger, and yet somehow, this year’s matchup proved closer than last year’s series. Attribute this an improved Pau George and Roy Hibbert, a limping Dwyane Wade, and a little bit of fan-friendly luck.
Game 1 was an instant classic. LeBron James recorded a triple-double and hit a game-winning layup at the buzzer in overtime. The play catalyzed a major discussion about NBA strategy, as analysts all over debated whether Pacer coach Frank Vogel was right or to have Roy Hibbert on the bench for the play. Lost in the hoopla was Paul George’s incredible game-tying three to force overtime.
In Game 2, the Pacers played the Heat close again, this time stealing one in Miami. Even though he played a good game overall, LeBron used all of his clutch magic in Game 1–at the end of this game he turned the ball over on consecutive crunch time possessions. George and Hibbert had excellent games once again to carry the Pacers.
Game 3 was a statement game for Miami. In Indiana, where the Pacers had yet to lose in the postseason, they beat the Pacers by 18 points, finally freeing themselves from the shackles of Indiana’s staunch defense.
The Pacers came back to play desperate basketball in Game 4, and it resulted in a series-tying victory. As he did all series, Hibbert dominated the offensive glass and the game in generl (10-16 FG, 23 pts, 12 reb). Lance Stephenson also showed up, scoring 20 points.
The Heat rarely lose two games in a row, and they showed that in Game 5 where they won by 11 and held the Pacers to just 79 points. It was another battle between George (27 pts, 11 reb, 5 ast on 11-19 FG) and James (30 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast). Ultimately, the Pacer backcourt and bench couldn’t stay with Miami. The teams would return to Indy with the the Heat leading 3-2.
In a Game 6 role reversal, the Pacers won by 14 while holding the Heat to 77 points. George once again shot 11-19 from the field, this time for 28 points. Hibbert continued to dominate all facets of the game. Meanwhile for the Heat , James was the only player to surpass 10 points (29 points). Chris Bosh (5 pts, 4 reb, 3 tov on 1-8 FG) would later apologize for his performance for the game and series as a whole. It was time for a Game 7.
Even though the series was as close as one can be, Game 7 was not so close. The Heat ran away with this one, winning 99-76, behind another big game from LeBron and a mini-resurgence from Wade (21 points). Bosh (3-13 FG) still struggled, but no Pacer other than Hibbert rised to the occasion. The Heat would move on to the NBA Finals.
- Hero: LeBron James
- Goat: Chris Bosh
- Line of the Series: In a Game 1 overtime victory, LeBron hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning layup to go along with 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 blocks.
Spurs-Grizzlies: In what many expected to be a close series, the Spurs decimated the Grizzlies in a four-game sweep. The Grizz were in a franchise-first conference finals and were a popular pick to win, but set the tone in Game 1, winning 105-83. It was a telling game–the Spurs carved up the normally stingy Grizzly defense and the Grizzlies struggles to find offense. Game 2 and Game 3 went to overtime, but crunch time is where the Spurs are at their best–unsurprisingly (in hindsight), they won both games. All in all, the series was uneventful; if you want to relive the most eventful moments, however, I highly recommend watching this awesome series recap.
- Hero: Tony Parker
- Goat: Memphis offense
- Line of the Series: In a series-clinching Game 4, Parker shot 15-21 en route to 37 points to go along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
THE NBA FINALS PREVIEW
Game 1 is in the books of the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals, where the Spurs won a nail-biter. I had predicted that the Spurs would win in 7 games and that Tony Parker would win Finals MVP. After Parker’s game-sealing buzzer-beater in Game 1, my prediction is looking pretty good. Despite the fact that the series has started, we can still review some of the critical questions that underlie this series:
- Will Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh find their groove?
- Which LeBron James will we see–the 2011 finals version or the 2012 finals version?
- Will Shane Battier continue to ride the pine, and if so, which Heat role players will rise to the occasion? Who will hit the threes Miami needs to make the series competitive?
- Will the Spurs do their best Pacers impression, or will they play “Spurs” basketball?
- Similarly, will San Antonio’s versatility thwart the Heat’s best efforts? Do the Spurs want to play fast or slow? Big or small? Crash the glass or retreat on defense?
- How will the Heat contain Parker, and will we see LeBron guard him at all?
- How will the Spurs’ role players who have yet to play in the Finals (e.g., Leonard, Green, Splitter) react to the big stage?
How the answers to these questions play out will help determine who raises this year’s Larry O’Brien trophy. Best of luck to both teams!
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