I played on several teams throughout my professional career,
including many different NBA teams. When
I played for the Miami Heat, I was very impressed with how well things were run.
With the Heat, the facilities were state-of-the-art, the trainers were
second-to-none and the organization was obviously dedicated to do what it took
to invest in a successful program.
Pat Riley was my coach, and Erik Spoelstra was the film
guy. He was actually much more involved than that, but that was my view of him
at the time. Coach Riley is infamous on loyalty. It is well known that Riley will take care of
you once you have earned your worth with him, the way everything in life should
be. For the most part, the same staff
exists as it did while I was there in 1998. Why change something that works?
During my time with the Heat, we made it to the Eastern
Conference Finals and were ultimately beaten by Michael Jordan and the Bulls
whom went on to win it all that year in 1998.
Coach Riley made you want to work hard for him. Although I
dreaded practice, once finished, I was proud of my daily accomplishments.
Riley would motivate and encourage players, all for the common cause, to get
better. He would reward you by treating
you the way you expected to be treated.
After my time with the Heat, I knew that there were big
things for them. To me, the future
looked hot for the Heat. Success was apparent. I knew there was a championship on the
horizon. The Heat organization is run as
a successful organization should be run. Now there have been three
championships, with another at the ready.
Congrats to Pat Riley on understanding and executing all
aspects of a winning organization. He is the catalyst and mastermind behind it all.
Fast-forward to today, they will most likely win again, three-peating in 2014 if:
LeBron outplays Leonard's tough defense, and
defends Leonard's offensive talents.
Duncan's legs don't sustain a seven-game series
by the Heat running the old man up and down the court religiously. (Duncan of
the Spurs is a 14-time All-Star, a four-time NBA champion and the best
rebounder and post-scorer in this series)
If Bosh plays like he has against the Spurs all
If Chalmers handles Parker who has been hurt lately
and Ginobili struggles to find his groove.
Here are some
additional reasons the Heat may have an advantage:
LeBron James named to All-NBA first-team for
As the Finals approach, no shortage of
motivation for LeBron James
Greg Oden hopes for chance at 'the other trophy'
The Heat are happy the NBA Finals showdown is a rematch
with Spurs - they are ready to face
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER:
With the teams splitting two regular-season matchups, they
each won on their home court. Tonight, in
San Antonio, Texas, the Spurs have home court advantage. Miami's win at home was accomplished with
three players injured for the Spurs and Dwayne had come off the bench also due
to an injury. These players, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green of
the Spurs and Dwyane Wade of the Heat are all healthy now.
Boris Diaw, a 6-8,
235-pound forward, could be a factor in this series. He started just 24 games
in the regular season, but two of them were against the Heat, and he averaged
15.5 points on 11-of-15 shooting in those two games. For the season, his
scoring average was only 9.1 points, so he seems to play better vs. Miami.
San Antonio's backup point guards -- Patty Mills and Cory
Joseph -- will take on added significance in this series if Parker is not at
full strength. The Spurs better hope
that is not the case.
Parker's health, Leonard's defense on James, Duncan's
ability to punish the Heat inside and Bosh's ability to score from the
perimeter --these will be among the factors that should decide this series.
To win a championship, the Heat will need to win at least
once in San Antonio, which has the home-court advantage.
Miami would prefer to steal a road win and then end this at
home in Game 6. But, the Spurs are out
for revenge and wouldn't mind playing on their home court in Game 7 with a
chance to end Miami's run.
It will be a great series, with one great organization
against another. Who has it in them? I can hear father time ticking against the
Jan. 26 at Miami: Heat 113, Spurs 101 Tim Duncan scored 23
points in a Sunday afternoon game, a game that was not exciting or inspiring. Heat forward Chris Bosh scored 24 points on
9-of-10 shooting from the floor and added five rebounds and three assists in
just 26 minutes. LeBron James had just
18 points and the Heat outscored the Spurs 33-21 in the third quarter.
March 6 at San Antonio: Spurs 111, Heat 87 Tim Duncan scored
23 points on a Thursday evening game, also a game that was not exciting or
inspiring, although it was better than the game in Miami because the Spurs had
something to prove. The Spurs led by 15 points after the first
quarter and never trailed in what was a rather easy win. LeBron scored 19
points. San Antonio outscored the Heat 29-13 in the fourth quarter, when Miami
had 10 turnovers.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
.497 -- The Heat's shooting percentage in the playoffs,
which is the best in the NBA. They also led in this category during the regular
.482 -- The Spurs' shooting percentage in the playoffs,
which is the second best in the NBA. They also ranked second in the league in
this category during the regular season (.486).
.395 -- The Heat's three-point percentage in the playoffs,
which is the best in the NBA. During the regular season, they finished 12th in
this category (.364).
.392 --The Spurs' three-point percentage in the playoffs,
which is the second best in the NBA. During the regular season, they led the
NBA in this category (.397).