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Saturday, June 07, 2014

The Finale Rematch

6/7/2014 10:57:36 AM

It’s on again, like an Alicia Keys and Kendrick Lamar soundtrack, as after one exhilarating season accompanied by tune-up changes in roster and several off-court controversies as well as shifting of records, statistical averages and awards garnered, it all comes down to one grand finale—two teams squaring off against each other once again.

Yes, sirs. The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat will clash for the second straight time; and the National Basketball Association (NBA) championship stage will feature a rematch for the first time since 1998.
Well, sounds new for the newbies out there, especially if you are younger than us 90s babies.

So it’s kinda a “rare phenomenon” to think about considering that the last time the NBA Finals ended up this way was during 1998–when the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz fared up to each other one last time. Their first duel was in 1997, with the Bulls owning the homecourt advantage and dispatched the Jazz in five games. And on their second encounter in ’98? The four-game-home floor favour was on their side, but still it was the Bulls which prevailed in the end courtesy of the game-winning move by then sick-but-heroic superstar named Michael Jordan.

And if you’ll do your research, you’ll see that even before 1998, there were a lot of Finals rematches in the NBA, especially if we’re talking about “way back” to the past (I mean, literally).

Fast forward to two thousand thirteen first; the Spurs always won the odds (Games 1, 3, and 5), while the Heat were the ones always playing catch-up basketball to even their series (Games 2, 4 and 6).

Apparently, the Spurs were on the verge of pulling a Game Six victory on the American Airlines Arena in the South Florida beach when a sudden rally courtesy of LeBron James and Ray Allen was staged. Talk about pulling off a “never-say-die” spirit, huh? But talks from people will tell you that it was perhaps one of the greatest moments in the recent NBA Finals.

Turns out the Heat rally dictated the final days of the series in their hands when they pulled an improbable overtime win to even the series for the third and last time in the 2013 finale; as Miami went on to close out the duel and the title in their home on Game 7, 97-88; with then-Most Valuable Player (MVP) LeBron James nailing a much-needed, cold-blooded dagger, to avenge his personal Finals loss against Tim Duncan and company in 2007.

Well, let’s move on to 2014. Things have been working well for the Spurs. They won 19 straight contests during the regular season; they were the first-ranked team in the Playoffs; they shrugged off their perennial playoff and state rival Dallas Mavericks in seven games in the first round; they shut down Portland in five; and a massive turn-around clincher against the Thunder, the team that has this season’s scoring champ and MVP in Kevin Durant, and also the squad which owned San Antonio in their four regular season outings.
The Thunder could have even force a Game 7 only if they prevail in overtime. Prior to that, they even tied the series, 2-2, before San Antonio zoomed in to their crucial victories.

On the other hand, Miami Heat, the two-time (and three-peat seeking) defending champions were rolled with inconsistencies. Yes, they are the champions, but one thing poisoned their form—rebounding. They were the worst rebounding team for this season. Yet, they pulled more victories, however, not the same type as they were before. Come to think that Miami even loses to those “dropped” teams during the 82-game regular season.

Both teams got better bench players though. I mean those role key guys who usually came off the bench. Plus, they also had three-point shooters. San Antonio may be aging though, but like a Rowdy Piper sound byte goes, “Legends don’t get old, they just got better.”

Despite the huge disadvantage though, Miami managed to sweep their first round assignment against Charlotte. They also dispatched Brooklyn, the squad which owned Miami during the regular season, in six games; and last year’s rematch Eastern Conference finalist Indiana, in six games. That just proved that even if you won four games in a very close-contested result (how about a total of 12-point winning margin during those four games that the Nets won against the Heat), it doesn’t matter in the playoffs.

And also, looks like the Pacers will have to learn their sets of lessons during this adventurous ride for 2013-2014 wars. They were the first-seeded team in the East, only to get down to their heels for numerous times during the post-season party. In addition, they were better than ever on paper–they just failed to take advantage of it. And include their team chemistry issues right there.

This time around though, San Antonio was way better than Miami; though in their two regular outings, both teams pulled off marginal victories in their respective floors. And I think that will be the typical grind for them this season.

I’m seeing San Antonio will prevail in this rematch should they zoomed on to an early 2-0 lead and if they will win at least one game in the Florida beach come Games 3 and 4. And if that’s the case, the Spurs will be going 2-1 against LeBron, 1-1 against the Heat, and a guaranteed fifth NBA title over the last 15 years.

However, if Miami can get their players healthy, whether it’s Dwyane Wade or LeBron, they will remain dangerous. All it takes is to withstand everything, including the atmosphere whether it’s in the Alamo or in Miami. And possibly, Miami can take this thing in six; and in case they win and grab their fourth title in franchise history, they will join the Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers as the other team to dominate the NBA in the last one and a half decade (come to think that if this will happen, all of them have at least four championship titles, with the Lakers earning five, and one apiece for the 2008 Boston Celtics and 2004 Detroit Pistons).

So expect (and I’ll quote Hulk Hogan’s adjectives for this) a “running wild” game ahead of you, accompanied by an even running wild fans which will make this finale the “talk-of-the-world.”

Author: slickmaster | © 2014 september twenty-eight productions 

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