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Ever since last October 30, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have been on a collision course to meet in the 2014 NBA Finals. The Heat and Spurs are once again the last two teams standing, and will clash in the Finals for the second consecutive season. It is the first time that the same two teams will play in the Finals since 1997 and 1998, when the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz faced off in back-to-back years. In 2013, the Heat needed a game seven at home to capture its second straight NBA Championship. Will it be the same story in 2014?
The Heat’s and Spurs’ rosters are very similar to last year’s. Mike Miller for the Heat and Gary Neal for the Spurs are key players that will not be in this year’s Finals, while Miami added Rashard Lewis and San Antonio now has Marco Belinelli in the fold. The Spurs have home court advantage this time around, but Miami has had an easier road getting to the Finals. San Antonio needed seven games just to get out of the first round against the Dallas Mavericks, and had a tough six-game series in the Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Miami, on the other hand, has only lost three games in the playoffs. The question now is, will the Heat complete the three-peat, or will the Spurs avenge their 2013 Finals disappointment?
The 2014 NBA Champion will be… the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs have been the best team in the NBA the entire season. Many analysts are billing this series as pitting the league’s best player against its best team. Despite the Heat having the best player in the NBA, the Spurs have the recipe to disrupt LeBron James, and that is Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard was matched up against James last year and did a great job forcing him into outside shots and keeping him out of the paint. Leonard was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive second team, which shows his improvement over the past year. The James versus Leonard matchup will be the difference. If Leonard is able to keep James out of the paint the Spurs will be in control, but if James can penetrate, then Miami will have the upper hand. The Spurs will be crowned NBA Champions after six games.