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Buzz Roundtable: NBA Finals Edition

Welcome to the latest edition of The “Buzz”: Basketball Roundtable.  We pose several basketball related questions to our panel of life-long NBA fans for their candid opinions.  We invite anyone to participate by answering the same questions in the “Comments” section at the bottom of this article.  Our panel consists of Jordan Leung, and  Matt Fish (of “Fish on Sports”).


1) What is the most important matchup of the Finals? What head to head encounter will you be watching the closest?

Matt – I’ll be most interested at who ends up guarding LeBron, and if they’ll play musical chairs with his defensive assignment. Kawhi Leonard is a solid defender on the wing, and is probably the most physically able to match James’ quickness, but as a young player in his first NBA Finals, you might see the Spurs go with a more veteran group fronting him. They probably won’t be playing a lot of zone defense because of Miami’s ability to hit the three, so they’ll have to figure out how to stop #6, or at least keep him at bay (which is easier said than done).

Jordan – It’s impossible to single out a certain matchup. There will be so many adjustments made throughout the series. LeBron will probably be guarding all five positions throughout the series, and we will probably see LeBron on Tony Parker for certain stretches in the fourth. The key for the Heat is to really shut down the perimeter game, and hope Duncan and Splitter alone won’t be able to beat them. The key for the Spurs is to make the right adjustments throughout the series, much like they did for the entire playoffs.


2) With Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli getting older is this San Antonio’s last run at a title or can they do it again?

Matt – Ginobili’s contract is up at the end of this season (he’s 36), and Tim Duncan’s expires at the end of next season, so while they might not retire after these Finals, I do expect this group to finally break up when Duncan’s contract ends in 2014, mostly because I think he’ll retire. Tony Parker also isn’t getting any younger, so you might see the Spurs try and get younger at the draft in couple of months.

Jordan – I’m just going to say they can do it again. If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was still making the Finals when he was 41, I don’t see how Tim Duncan could not match that with modern medicine and conditioning.


3) This is third straight trip to the finals for the Heat. Is this team better or worse than last year’s Championship winning version? Why?

Matt – On paper, they’re definitely better because the Big Three have more scoring help. If they play the way they did in Game 7 against Indiana, and the way in which they won 66 games this past season, they’ll have a vastly improved chance at winning the series. If they play like they did in those three recent losses to the Pacers however, that’s probably a different story.

 Jordan – This year’s Heat is a lot better than last year’s team. LeBron James is a lot more mature and an overall better player. Ray Allen, Chris Andersen, and Norris Cole are all better bench players than what the Heat had last year, and Erik Spoelstra has proven to be a pretty good coach. I think people are overplaying Wade and Bosh’s poor play. Things will be different in the Finals


4) Prediction time: Who wins and in How Many Games? Give a quick reason as for why.

Matt – Just when the Heat haters were ready to run naked through the streets with glee, LeBron and company showed why they’ve now punched their ticket to a third consecutive Finals – with balanced scoring and suffocating trap defense. Just as it was in the previous series, this battle for supremacy is going to come down to who wins the battle in the paint on both sides of the ball. That means who can score inside and/or defend the best inside, and who cleans up the glass on a nightly basis. During the regular season, both teams were lousy offensive rebounding squads, but the Spurs were the second best defensive rebounding team in the league. That means less second-chance points for Miami and more fast breaks (potentially) for Tony Parker. I say Spurs in six. 

Jordan – This is a prediction I am not comfortable making at all… Even if you put a gun to my head I’d struggle to make a prediction. But for the sake of this column… Spurs in 7? It is an odd-numbered year after all.


Thanks for reading.  Don’t forget to follow the panel on Twitter – @giordun @aFishCalledMatt.  While you’re at it, give the site a follow too – @lastwordonsport.

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