Last night the Miami Heat eliminated the Indiana Pacers . . . but it may seem to be ignoring the fact that it took seven games to get it done. There are a bunch of folks really excited about the Heat being in the Finals for the third consecutive year . . . and they have declared LeBron James as the “greatest basketball player on the planet.” The Heat will represent the East and the San Antonio Spurs will represent the West. I have seen some offering bold, early predictions that the Heat will win the best of 7 series in 6 games. I am not a gambler, but I would take a bunch of action on that prediction . . . I mean a bunch of action.
This is sort of a modern version of the old tale of the tortoise and the hare. The Heat is flashy and built around a couple of showboats . . . hot dogs—so-called superstars. The Spurs are just a bunch of good guys, who love the game, love each other, love the organization, and love their community. There isn’t much flashy about the Spurs and the reason there isn’t is because fundamentals and flash rarely go together. The Spurs are a team that focuses on the fundamentals . . . on the court and off the court. Some around the NBA call them boring . . . I call them winners!
Those who are quick to claim an easy victory for the Heat have forgotten some facts. Let me just point out a few:
. . . The Spurs swept the L. A. Lakers in the first round of the playoffs. The truth is that there are bunch of folks who claim the Laker’s super-star is the “greatest basketball player on the planet.”
. . . The Spurs also swept the Memphis Grizzlies who are an up-and-coming young team that played very well to get to the last round of the Western Conference Finals.
. . . The Spurs beat and eliminated a really good Golden State Warrior team in six games. (I am confident the Golden State Warriors could beat the Heat in 6 games!)
. . . The Spurs have won 14 of 16 games in the Playoffs . . . and that is a sign of a great team!
Here is where I think the battle will be in this final and once again the old question will be tested . . . is the whole greater than the sum of its parts?
I believe the answer is always an emphatic yes, and there are no other places where that is true more than on the basketball court and . . . are you ready for this? In a New Testament Church!
TRUTH #1: One dude cannot consistently dominate and win games in the NBA; and
TRUTH #2: Go to your Church and just walk around looking at the building, grounds, and parking area and just think about how all that came to be. You can be certain that no one person did all of that . . . it took a bunch of people working together in harmony to have made all of that possible . . . You can bet it took nickels from some, quarters from others, and dollars from others . . . everyone sharing the load!
Here are some things to watch for in this series:
- One of the Spur’s strength is its passing game. They are really great at getting a lot of hands on the ball. That rapid ball-movement will cause the Heat to lose focus . . . because they are accustom to watching a couple of ball hogs. But, the Spurs can get a bit sloppy in-passing and will have to guard against that because the Heat does have a couple of pretty good ball thieves, and we don’t want to set them up for fast-break easy-baskets.
- The Heat is not a very good defensive team . . . and I believe Parker’s penetration into the pain and Duncan’s low block will expose a serious weakness in the Heat’s defensive game. I am confident that Parker will get to the hoop frequently.
- On the other hand, the Heat’s run-and-gun style will not play well against the Spur’s great defense. I look for LeBron James to have his hands full with Leonard all over him, but when he does evade and finds a way in, he will find a couple of big dudes named Timmy and Diego waiting for him at the rim. He hasn’t met anyone quite like those guys, and I don’t think he is going to like them very well; and, last but not least . . .
- Pop is the mastermind of the NBA . . . he has an incredible ability to see the game differently than anyone else. The man just sees things, then he counters, pressures, exposes weaknesses, and capitalizes on the opponent’s weakness. I still chuckle at the “Hack a Shaq” he came up with to deal with Shaq — and the fun everyone had with it (everyone except Shaq). The Spurs—and the rest of the NBA—simply did not know what to do with that huge creature and it just seemed impossible to keep him out of the paint . . . so Pop, former CIA analysis, took that big, intimidating monster and turned him into a big joke and had people across the world chuckling as Shaq walked to the free-throw line, time-after-time, with his head down, knowing he was about to put up a couple of bricks as the crowd roared! That is just the stuff Pop does . . . and that is why he is the highest-winning coach of any and all sports today. He is something like .695 as coach of the Spurs. Think about how many active coaches in the NBA have been on his staff, or played for him? His shadow has fallen far across the NBA . . . he is certain to be a Hall of Famer!
GO SPURS GO!!!