Insider offers a breakdown of every playoff series using an expert combination of scouting from Amin Elhassan and advanced metrics from Bradford Doolittle to answer three crucial questions. Also included are predictions from the writers and the classic Log5 formula for determining matchup probabilities.
This is a collision we anticipated the moment Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook went down for the season, and now that we've reached impact, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs have given us a fascinating Finals matchup. Depending on how you view Miami's Chris Bosh and San Antonio's Tracy McGrady, at least six surefire Hall of Famers dot the respective rosters, and perhaps as many as eight.
Both teams are fueled by high-powered big threes, though the foundation for each team was cemented in very different ways. We've got the defending champion Heat, led by a blue-blooded, glitzy trio bought by Pat Riley, against the blue-collar organizational efficiency of San Antonio's Gregg Popovich, who has guided his core threesome through 11 seasons and three NBA championships.
When looking at a playoff series, we like to pick apart the regular-season meetings between the combatants in an effort to spot trends and matchup issues. We really can't do that this season because San Antonio and Miami did not face each other with full rosters. In November, Popovich sent his stars home to San Antonio at the end of a long road trip rather than have them play on short rest against the Heat, and he drew a fine from the league in the process. In the return match in San Antonio at the end of March, it was Miami who played without its stars as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade sat out. In that respect, the Finals have a little bit of mystery, much like baseball's World Series used to have in the days before interleague play.
In any event, it's a worthy Finals matchup. The combined seeds of the top-seeded Heat and second-seeded Spurs are our lowest since the Lakers-Celtics matchup in 2008, so buckle up and enjoy.
NBA Finals preview