Finals: Scouting Heat-Spurs
Breaking down title series with expert scouting, advanced stats
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.
The Finals aren't a rematch so much as a sequel, the conclusion to a compelling drama introduced last spring. The Miami Heat won the first go-round, but over the seven games, the San Antonio Spurs outscored Miami by a ridiculously close margin of 684-679. Flags fly forever, but did Miami really prove any kind of superiority?
These types of return matches used to be commonplace in the NBA, a king-of-the-hill league in which once a team crawled on top of the heap, it was difficult to knock it off. But we haven't had a rematch since the Chicago Bulls-Utah Jazz in 1998, a testament to how the league has evolved in terms of parity.
By winning their respective conferences again, the Heat and Spurs have further moved away from the pack. With six conference titles, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is outranked by only Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, but Riley protégé Erik Spoelstra has now won four -- more than all but Pop, Jackson, Riley and K.C. Jones. Truly this Finals matchup pits the elite against the elite in 21st-century basketball.
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