I played on several teams throughout my professional career, including many different NBA teams. When I played for the Miami Heat, I was very impressed with how well things were run. With the Heat, the facilities were state-of-the-art, the trainers were second-to-none and the organization was obviously dedicated to do what it took to invest in a successful program.
Pat Riley was my coach, and Erik Spoelstra was the film guy. He was actually much more involved than that, but that was my view of him at the time. Coach Riley is infamous on loyalty. It is well known that Riley will take care of you once you have earned your worth with him, the way everything in life should be. For the most part, the same staff exists as it did while I was there in 1998. Why change something that works?
During my time with the Heat, we made it to the Eastern Conference Finals and were ultimately beaten by Michael Jordan and the Bulls whom went on to win it all that year in 1998.
Coach Riley made you want to work hard for him. Although I dreaded practice, once finished, I was proud of my daily accomplishments. Riley would motivate and encourage players, all for the common cause, to get better. He would reward you by treating you the way you expected to be treated.
After my time with the Heat, I knew that there were big things for them. To me, the future looked hot for the Heat. Success was apparent. I knew there was a championship on the horizon. The Heat organization is run as a successful organization should be run. Now there have been three championships, with another at the ready.
Congrats to Pat Riley on understanding and executing all aspects of a winning organization. He is the catalyst and mastermind behind it all.
Fast-forward to today, they will most likely win again, three-peating in 2014 if:
- LeBron outplays Leonard’s tough defense, and defends Leonard’s offensive talents.
- Duncan’s legs don’t sustain a seven-game series by the Heat running the old man up and down the court religiously. (Duncan of the Spurs is a 14-time All-Star, a four-time NBA champion and the best rebounder and post-scorer in this series)
- If Bosh plays like he has against the Spurs all year.
- If Chalmers handles Parker who has been hurt lately and Ginobili struggles to find his groove.
Here are some additional reasons the Heat may have an advantage:
- LeBron James named to All-NBA first-team for eighth time
- As the Finals approach, no shortage of motivation for LeBron James
- Greg Oden hopes for chance at ‘the other trophy’
- The Heat are happy the NBA Finals showdown is a rematch with Spurs – they are ready to face their opponent
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER:
With the teams splitting two regular-season matchups, they each won on their home court. Tonight, in San Antonio, Texas, the Spurs have home court advantage. Miami’s win at home was accomplished with three players injured for the Spurs and Dwayne had come off the bench also due to an injury. These players, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green of the Spurs and Dwyane Wade of the Heat are all healthy now.
Boris Diaw, a 6-8, 235-pound forward, could be a factor in this series. He started just 24 games in the regular season, but two of them were against the Heat, and he averaged 15.5 points on 11-of-15 shooting in those two games. For the season, his scoring average was only 9.1 points, so he seems to play better vs. Miami.
San Antonio’s backup point guards — Patty Mills and Cory Joseph — will take on added significance in this series if Parker is not at full strength. The Spurs better hope that is not the case.
Parker’s health, Leonard’s defense on James, Duncan’s ability to punish the Heat inside and Bosh’s ability to score from the perimeter –these will be among the factors that should decide this series.
To win a championship, the Heat will need to win at least once in San Antonio, which has the home-court advantage.
Miami would prefer to steal a road win and then end this at home in Game 6. But, the Spurs are out for revenge and wouldn’t mind playing on their home court in Game 7 with a chance to end Miami’s run.
It will be a great series, with one great organization against another. Who has it in them? I can hear father time ticking against the Spurs.
********************************************************************************SPURS & HEAT – REGULAR SEASON REPLAY:
Jan. 26 at Miami: Heat 113, Spurs 101 Tim Duncan scored 23 points in a Sunday afternoon game, a game that was not exciting or inspiring. Heat forward Chris Bosh scored 24 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the floor and added five rebounds and three assists in just 26 minutes. LeBron James had just 18 points and the Heat outscored the Spurs 33-21 in the third quarter.
March 6 at San Antonio: Spurs 111, Heat 87 Tim Duncan scored 23 points on a Thursday evening game, also a game that was not exciting or inspiring, although it was better than the game in Miami because the Spurs had something to prove. The Spurs led by 15 points after the first quarter and never trailed in what was a rather easy win. LeBron scored 19 points. San Antonio outscored the Heat 29-13 in the fourth quarter, when Miami had 10 turnovers.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
.497 — The Heat’s shooting percentage in the playoffs, which is the best in the NBA. They also led in this category during the regular season (.501).
.482 — The Spurs’ shooting percentage in the playoffs, which is the second best in the NBA. They also ranked second in the league in this category during the regular season (.486).
.395 — The Heat’s three-point percentage in the playoffs, which is the best in the NBA. During the regular season, they finished 12th in this category (.364).
.392 –The Spurs’ three-point percentage in the playoffs, which is the second best in the NBA. During the regular season, they led the NBA in this category (.397).
2014 NBA FINALS SCHEDULE:
Game 1 June 5, 2014 – at San Antonio, 9 p.m.
Game 2 June 8, 2014 – at San Antonio, 8 p.m.
Game 3 June 10, 2014 – at Miami, 9 p.m.
Game 4 June 12, 2014 – at Miami, 9 p.m.
Game 5* June 15, 2014 – at San Antonio, 8 p.m.
Game 6* June 17, 2014 – at Miami, 9 p.m.
Game 7* June 20, 2014 – at San Antonio, 9 p.m.
* — if necessary — All ABC games