Five questions about the NBA Finals

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 6, 2013 - 12:04 PM

Miami and San Antonio meet in the NBA Finals for the first time starting Thursday, but Heat superstar LeBron James has been here before, six years ago when his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept in four games by the Spurs.

Miami and San Antonio meet in the NBA Finals for the first time starting Thursday, but Heat superstar LeBron James has been here before, six years ago when his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept in four games by a Spurs team that won its fourth NBA title anchored by star center Tim Duncan.

Here are five questions about a Heat team looking to repeat in its third consecutive trip to the Finals and a Spurs team looking to get Duncan one more ring for his thumb:

Q Will the Spurs be rusty, or ready?

AThey haven’t played in 10 days since sweeping Memphis in the Western Conference finals. The Heat beat Indiana in the East final’s Game 7 on Monday.

That’s three days, sports and mathematics fans.

“I’m ready to play now,” James told reporters Wednesday. “I would rather have the two days.”

While the Pacers and Heat slugged it out, the Spurs sat home, rested their old creaky bodies and observed.

“We learned a lot watching those games,” San Antonio guard Tony Parker said. “I can’t tell you what we got from that, but we learned a lot. Hopefully, it will help us.”

Q Did the Pacers provide the blueprint for beating the Heat?

AYes and no.

Big Roy Hibbert demonstrated during the Eastern Conference finals what most everybody suspected all along: If you’re going to challenge Miami, you’ll do it with height, length and muscle.

Hibbert, and frontcourt mate David West, provided some of all three.

The Spurs have size, but neither Tim Duncan nor Tiago Splitter is Hibbert, a 7-2 shot-blocker whose presence tested the Heat.

The Spurs, like the Heat, will spread the floor more, with Parker’s ball handling creating space for three-point shooters Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal and Matt Bonner.

“It’s going to be a little different,” said Heat center Chris Bosh, who struggled to find his way against the Pacers. “It’s kind of like our practices playing each other.”

 

Q Has it really been six years?

AYes, it has.

James was just 22 then when his Cavaliers met the Spurs in the 2007 Finals.

That was then, this is…

“That was like ancient history,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was basically a neophyte at the time, wondering how all this stuff worked and how it’s put together. We were very fortunate at that time to get him so early. At this point, he has grown. He doesn’t care what y’all say. He knows basketball better than everybody put together in this room. He goes and plays the game and does what’s necessary.

“So he’ll be a lot more of a problem than he was in ’07. That’s for sure.”

James now has one title ring and is working on collecting that handful he playfully promised when he and his talents left Cleveland for South Beach in 2010.

“A lot smarter, more experienced, older,” James said. “I think that’s the most important thing, I’ve matured as a basketball player.”

Q Will James defend Parker?

  

A You bet.

But who knows, he might defend Duncan some, too.

That’s why teammates call James “1 through 5,” a guy who felt snubbed when he didn’t win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year but still can — and will — guard everybody from point guard to center.

“We’ll see it how it plays out,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s our Super Glue. Wherever we need to put him, he’ll make it work.”

Many other teams have put taller, bigger players on Parker, usually in futile attempts to counter his pick-and-roll precision and slow his attacks to the basket. But no other team has a defender as versatile as James.

“We’ll see if they are going to do that,” Parker said, “but I’m kind of used to it.”

 

 

Q So why does network TV still bother with those Popovich sideline interviews?

AMaybe making TNT, ESPN or ABC sideline reporters anxious and uncomfortable is just sport to him, but it’s obvious the Spurs coach doesn’t think he — or his brethren — should be asked to do television interviews during games and everything about his body language and terse answers say so.

So why continue with something so predictably painfully and uninformative?

ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, who might next season again be answering those sideline questions in Brooklyn or Los Angeles, suggests it might be more productive to interview the head referee or some common fan.

“I think it would just as interesting interviewing a random fan because they [the coaches] are just not into it,” Van Gundy said. “It’s almost become funny how short Gregg is. … They’re trying to get to their timeout huddle to do what their job is.”

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Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 0 1st Qtr 5:24
San Francisco 7
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 94 4th Qtr 11:02
New Orleans 62
Utah 71 4th Qtr 9:00
Charlotte 86
Atlanta 42 2nd Qtr 6:28
Houston 31
San Antonio 13 1st Qtr 6:26
Dallas 8
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 2 3rd Prd
Buffalo 0
Philadelphia 5 2nd Prd :53
Toronto 3
Ottawa 1 3rd Prd
Montreal 2
Washington 2 3rd Prd
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 0 3rd Prd
NY Islanders 0
Florida 1 2nd Prd 3:55
Pittsburgh 2
NY Rangers 0 3rd Prd
Carolina 1
Chicago 1 3rd Prd
Columbus 1
Nashville 3 2nd Prd
Minnesota 2
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
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Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
SMU 62 FINAL
Michigan 51
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Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
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Duquesne 79
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IUPUI 71
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
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Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
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Indiana State 56
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Butler 73
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Arkansas State 67
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Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
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Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
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St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
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Texas-Arlington 89
UMBC 66 FINAL
Kennesaw St 53
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Chicago State 77
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Missouri State 65
UCLA 44 FINAL
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Coll of Charleston 68
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Louisiana 85 FINAL
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Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
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Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 2nd Half 0:43
Akron 92
NJIT 83 2nd Half 0:38
Central Conn St 74
Hofstra 63 2nd Half 4:31
Columbia 73
Boston Univ 55 2nd Half 7:45
Dayton 64
Iona 60 2nd Half 4:17
George Mason 68
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 48 2nd Half 5:41
Kansas State 61
Morgan State 68 2nd Half 0:25
Manhattan 70
Saint Josephs 72 2nd Half 1:40
Marist 55
East Carolina 49 2nd Half 2:47
UNC-Wilmington 57
Richmond 60 2nd Half 2:50
Pepperdine 54
La Salle 57 2nd Half 3:55
Towson 41
Incarnate Word 62 2nd Half 5:34
UMKC 63
CS-Bakersfield 48 2nd Half 7:37
Idaho State 44
Iowa 30 2nd Half 14:14
Northern Iowa 33
Milwaukee 35 2nd Half 15:55
SIU Edwardsville 31
Long Beach State 27 1st Half 3:48
Texas 37
TX-San Antonio 26 1st Half 0:50
TCU 39
SE Missouri St 10 1st Half 12:13
Arkansas 16
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
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CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
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Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 17 4th Qtr 8:36
Air Force 31
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
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Western Ky
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Rice
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Louisiana Tech
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North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
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(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
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UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
FIU 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
UCF 57 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
UMKC 51
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 69 2nd Half 0:39
Tennessee St 70
Saint Louis 43 2nd Half 12:29
Utah Valley U 35
Washington 30 2nd Half
UC-Riverside 42
Pacific 17 1st Half 3:52
Long Beach St 18
Old Dominion 36 1st Half 1:09
Miami-Ohio 32
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago
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