NBA Finals rematch not a sure deal

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NBA Finals rematch not a sure deal

Javier Cortez, Staff Reporter

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The 2014 NBA playoffs are now underway, and it is no surprise that the favorites to meet in the finals are the Heat and the Spurs.

Even though the Heat-Spurs rematch would be very exciting, it is a safe pick. It would not be a shock if one of the two teams is not playing in early June and here is why.

The Spurs will have a harder road, as the Western Conference is always the deeper conference with more quality teams. The Spurs will most likely get through the Mavericks in round one, but the next two rounds are up for grabs.

If the Spurs meet the Houston Rockets in the conference semis, an upset is very possible. The Rockets swept the season series and averaged 106 points per game in those four games. Houston’s frenetic pace and youth can trouble the Spurs just like the Warriors did last year. The same thing goes for the following round, where they would most likely meet the Thunder. Just like the Rockets, Oklahoma City swept the season series.

The Spurs captured the top seed in the West on the basis of consistency, and playing well when injuries occurred. The Spurs’ biggest problem is that they are old. A slight ankle roll, or hamstring pull could easily take the Spurs out of contention. It does not help that the three best players on the team are over 30.

Whether it is the ambiguity of the NBA playoffs or the 82-game regular season, the Spurs have shown the ability to suddenly deflate once the playoffs start. In 2009, the Spurs finished third in the West and lost to the Mavericks in five games. The next year, the Phoenix Suns swept the Spurs after a years of being dominated by San Antonio. The most shocking upset came in 2011, when the Memphis Grizzlies triumphed in six games. The Spurs are the favorite to come out of the West, but an upset is very possible.

Two-time defending champions, the Miami Heat will be the favorite on the other side of the bracket in the Eastern Conference. With an anti-climactic end to the regular season, the Heat do not look so hot coming into the playoffs. The biggest question for the Heat is the health and productivity of Dwyane Wade.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, at times Wade has looked like a shell of himself. If the Heat want to three-peat, Wade will have to pull out one more vintage playoff run. Miami opens the playoffs against the Bobcats, a team that they have dominated since the beginning of time.

The conference semis will be a different story. The Heat will most likely match up with the Brooklyn Nets, a team that has had the Heat’s number all season long. Unlike the Spurs, the Heat has always seemed to pull off a role reversal once the playoffs begin. For the past three years, the Heat has struggled with the Bulls and Celtics in the regular season, but in the playoffs they have always come out on top.

One benefit that Miami has coming into the playoffs is that their conference rival is playing some of their worst basketball of the season. The Pacers have shown an inability to score within the past month and have lost to teams that are a shade above mediocre. The Heat has the advantage of knowing how to play its best basketball in the playoffs.

As history has shown, the Heat could possibly fall and fall hard. The Heat will look to become the third team in NBA history to reach four consecutive NBA finals and the first team to do it since the Los Angeles Lakers in 1984-85 season.

This playoff run should not be looked at as a run at a third consecutive championship, but the fourth consecutive trip to the finals. That in itself will be an amazing feat. Teams that have tried to win three championships in a row, let alone back-to-back, have failed miserably.

During the 2010-11 season, the Los Angeles Lakers were embarrassed by the eventual champions, the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semis. In 1990-91, the Detroit Pistons were dismissed by the Chicago Bulls in four games, and in 1988-89, the Lakers were dethroned by the Detroit Pistons in four games in the NBA finals. The Heat will have a fighting chance, but history shows it will not be easy.

From a betting aspect, the Heat and Spurs are the odds-on favorite to meet in a rematch for the NBA title, but the NBA playoffs are always unpredictable and the possibility of two different teams playing for a championship in June is very possible.

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