It’s come down to this: the San Antonio Spurs vs. the Miami Heat for the 2013 NBA title. After a pair of incredible seasons, both the Heat and Spurs arrive to the NBA’s grandest stage as the clear-cut best of both the eastern and western conferences. Both teams arrive with their Big Threes intact and both teams enter the final round of the 2013 postseason relatively healthy. Tim Duncan vs. LeBron James. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli vs. Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Who’ll win? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.

Riley: The Miami Heat showed me a couple of things in their last game against the Indiana Pacers: explosion and lockdown defense. Up until Game 7 against Indiana, Miami was playing hideaway for much of the playoffs. They played invisible so much that I honestly believed Indiana was going to send them home. But the Heat rebounded, Wade looked healthy in the deciding game and Miami’s notorious suffocating defense finally showed up. Miami’s fast and pesky defense should be a big problem for the Spurs. Remember, San Antonio is still the same team that dropped four straight to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 playoffs. And it was this same Heat team that dismantled Oklahoma in five games later in the Finals that season.

Green: Different teams match up differently and we all know that. Just because Miami served Oklahoma in an impressive fashion doesn’t mean we’re going to see the same thing against the Spurs. I think this San Antonio team matches up perfectly against Miami because they give the defending champions two things they struggle against: strong point guards and centers. Between Duncan and Parker, the Spurs have exactly what Miami hates to match up against. We saw how much trouble Roy Hibbert gave them and it might be more than fair to say that Duncan is better than the Pacers center. And there’s simply no comparison between George Hill and Parker. Wade’s still hobbled and Bosh hasn’t played well all playoffs. I like the Spurs in six games.

Riley: Miami does tend to struggle with solid point guard/center duos but once they get the full scouting reports on teams they usually shut down whatever the opposition’s staple plays are. Duncan, Ginobli and Parker average 34 years of age between them and I just see the in-his-prime James licking his chops in anticipation of his second consecutive ring. The Spurs of yesteryear would’ve given me more to worry about. I just feel like the only reason why San Antonio is here is because it was a pretty down year for the West considering Russell Westbrook got hurt, the Golden State Warriors were banged up and the Lakers were a mess without Kobe Bryant. The Spurs are a good team but it won’t be enough for the manpower that the Heat will bring to the Finals.

Green: We could easily talk about the competition that the Heat faced throughout this postseason but I’d rather not because it was that bad. Outside of the Pacers, they saw a five-man rotation in the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks in the opening round. The Spurs had the more difficult road to this point and with the extra rest, they’re more than prepared to take on Miami. You said earlier that these aren’t the Spurs of yesteryear, well, the Miami Heat aren’t exactly comprised of the 2005 Wade or the 2009 Bosh who averaged career-highs in points and rebounds. Like it or not, Riley, the Spurs have been the most impressive team in the playoffs this year.

Riley: They’ve played well and done so as a team. But they don’t have the best player in the NBA in James and that will be their downfall. Say what you want about Bosh and/or Wade but James was still spectacular throughout Miami’s march through the East. He’s playing even better than he did over the last two postseasons and there’s not a cover for him in the Association. We all thought Paul George would give him problems but he abused him as well. The Spurs will start with Kawhi Leonard and James will simply do what he’s done over the past few playoffs: abuse his opponent, score at will, get his teammates involved and will the Heat to the victory.

Green: I can’t see a Gregg Popovich-coached team letting one particular player just run wild. San Antonio will take advantage of how poorly Wade and Bosh have played and defer from them to guard James. Don’t underestimate the Spurs defense as they’ve been pretty stellar the last few seasons. They have the depth, the coach and the superstars and they’ll beat the Miami Heat.


Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley

AFRO Sports Desk