How Spurs would match up vs. Heat
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
With the San Antonio Spurs headed to the NBA Finals, USA TODAY Sports takes a look at how they would match up with the Eastern Conference finalist Miami Heat:
When the Spurs have the ball
Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter should give San Antonio an advantage in the paint. Heat big men Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen are tough defenders, but they will struggle to defend the Spurs’ bigger, more skilled big men. Heat star Chris Bosh may take on an increased defensive role against Duncan if that’s the case, and he is a better defender than he gets credit for being.
The Spurs love to spread the ball with quick passes around the perimeter. But that can be a risky proposition against LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. The Heat stars love to grab lazy passes and take them down for fast-break dunks. San Antonio will have to be extremely cautious and may be better off having point guard Tony Parker exploit Mario Chalmers off the dribble. The Heat, though, can counter by putting James or Wade on Parker, overwhelming him with size and athleticism.
When the Heat have the ball
Guarding James and Wade is a bear of a task, but Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are good one-on-one defenders. The key will be the help defense. Splitter is inconsistent, but Duncan is one of the best in the game at helping his teammates and keeping opponents out of the paint.
The Heat, like the Spurs, have a glut of three-point shooters. But they prefer to get them open with savvy penetration. San Antonio struggled to stop the three-point shooting of the Golden State Warriors in the second round, and Miami offers even more varied looks.
Key matchup: Kawhi Leonard vs. LeBron James
No one can guard James. But Leonard has the strength and quickness to stay with him somewhat. Getting that kind of contribution out of the second-year player would be a huge help. Still, the four-time NBA MVP is about 2 inches and 30 pounds bigger than Leonard, and he showed improving post skills in the … [For more on How San Antonio Spurs would match up vs. Miami Heat, click here.]