Op-Ed: NBA Finals Matchup Preview

Posted Jun 4, 2014 by Jessie McMullen
The NBA Finals will take action Thursday night as the two-time defending champions Miami Heat take on the San Antonio Spurs.
LeBron James driving to the basket.
LeBron James driving to the basket.
flickr/Keith Allison
With a rematch of last year's NBA Finals, these two teams are very familiar with each other and matchups should be predictable, unless Erik Spoelstra or Gregg Popovich decide to change things around.
There are a few changes to each teams lineups this season. Mike Miller, a key role player for the Heat last season, is no longer on the roster. Gary Neal, also a key role player for the Spurs last season, is no longer on the roster.
Both teams have gone to playing a smaller lineup this postseason, after playing bigger most of the season. But, with these two experienced teams one matchup could make all of the difference.
Center: Chris Bosh vs. Tim Duncan
Duncan put up 18.9 points and 12.1 rebounds per game in last year's NBA Finals compared to Bosh's 11.9 points and 8.9 rebounds.
Tim Duncan has a huge advantage over Chris Bosh in his experience and knowledge. Duncan, arguably one of the smartest and knowledgable players in the game, also has an advantage over Chris Bosh in the low post. Duncan is stronger than Bosh and should be easily able to work him in the post.
Bosh has become somewhat of a threat from the perimeter. He has shot 41 percent on 2.5 attempts from long range this postseason. These numbers put some pressure on Duncan, who will have a hard time guarding Bosh outside of the paint.
Power Forward: Rashard Lewis, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier, etc. vs. Borris Diaw, Matt Bonner, Tiago Splitter, etc.
The power forward matchup will be the most unpredictable matchup in this series, as both teams don't have a "star" power forward. So, who really knows who will be starting for either team.
Rashard Lewis played really well for the Heat last series against the Pacers, which may help him get some more minutes against the Spurs. Haslem has seen less minutes this postseason compared to the regular season. Battier can produce good minutes but isn't always consistent. Chris Andersen (technically a center), like Battier is not always the most consistent.
Borris Diaw will usually put in good minutes for the Spurs and may even matchup with Lebron a few times throughout the series. Bonner and Splitter have both improved this season and have been playing crucial minutes for the Spurs.
Small Forward: Lebron James vs. Kawhi Leonard
In last year's Finals, James averaged 25.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 7 assists. Lebron James, arguably the best player in the world, is looking to add a third ring to his collection.
Leonard is a fantastic athlete with great potential but he just isn't on the same level as James, yet. He's going have his hands full with the King, especially in the Finals. Leonard will probably do better than most at containing James but it still won't be enough.
Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade vs. Danny Green
This matchup is more even than most people think. Most people would believe that Wade has a huge advantage over Green, but they're wrong.
Green will test Wade every minute he's on the court on both ends of the floor. Green has been hot this postseason, especially from long range. Wade is going to have to play like the old Dwyane Wade we are used to seeing, no excuses and no complaints. He's going to have to be locked in on defense.
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Green should be worried about the defensive end. If he keeps shooting the way he has, he will be fine on the offensively but he's going to have to lock down on Wade defensively, shake him up and not let him play his game.
Point Guard: Mario Chalmers vs. Tony Parker
Tony Parker has said that he will play in Game 1 against the Heat after leaving Game 6 against Oklahoma City with a bad ankle but it is unclear if he is 100 percent.
If Parker is healthy, he's going to be a tough matchup for Chalmers. Parker is much more experienced and like Duncan, is smart. He knows what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and how it needs to be done.
Chalmers will have to use his speed and athleticism to out play Parker, especially if he is not 100 percent. Chalmers isn't on the court to score, that's what his teammates are for, but defensively he's going to be a huge factor in this series.
The Spurs have a huge advantage on the bench with Manu Ginobili, Cory Joseph, Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills and either Bonner or Splitter (depending on who starts). These are key players to the Spurs lineup and are highly capable of getting the job done.
The Heat's bench is capable of scoring with Norris Cole, Ray Allen and Andersen but nothing like the Spurs.
The 2014 NBA Finals are going to be very interesting as the Miami Heat seek their third straight Finals victory and the San Antonio Spurs look for revenge from the last year's Finals.