Despite perpetual dominance the San Antonio Spurs get little attention from fans. Look for them to make a splash in the 2014 NBA Finals against Lebron James and the Miami Heat.
The San Antonio Spurs have been the picture of consistency over the past 15 years. While they’ve always been one of the NBA’s better teams, in 1997 they got lucky and landed future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan with the first overall pick. Coupling his rare talent with coach Greg Popovich’s genius began their reign of supremacy in the Western Conference.
During the years 1998-2014 the Spurs haven’t missed the playoffs once and have won four championships. They’ve groomed foreign imports like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Throughout all of this, the Spurs have remained an afterthought to higher profile teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
Why? Part of it can be explained by the fact that the central Texas city of San Antonio is not a major media market. However, it can mostly be chalked up to the fact that they play an ultra-technical style of basketball, executing perfectly but playing at a snail’s pace.
While the run-and-gun style favored by teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and (formerly) Phoenix Suns is more popular with the fans, the Spurs have proven that the best way to win is by sticking to a rigidly choreographed routine. Their opponents know exactly what to expect each game, but they always seem unable to stop it.
A rematch for the ages
•The 2013 NBA Finals ended with the Heat beating the Spurs in seven games, the 2014 Finals are a rematch of that series
•While the Heat feature Lebron James, the star-less Spurs are a better overall team
•We advise that you favor San Antonio when placing bets on the games, but expect the series to be down to the wire
The 2014 NBA Finals is a rematch of last year’s finals in which Lebron James’ Miami Heat won in seven games. Given that the same two teams are facing off again, most expect the outcome to be the same. Think again.
It’s not that Miami isn’t a great team anymore. They steamrolled each of their opponents in the East to get to the finals, and Lebron is still the best player in the world, hands down. He makes a case for being the best player of all time (sorry MJ). But the supporting cast has begun to age.
Dwayne Wade is still a great #2 but isn’t quite who he was two/three years ago. Role players Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and Ray Allen are all well past their primes. Chris Bosh is still in the mix, but there isn’t a ton there anymore. If Miami is to win its third straight championship, it will be on Lebron to make it happen.
San Antonio’s case for greatness
There is a reason that online sportsbooks in Canada like Bodog are giving San Antonio a slight edge in the series. They are a dominant team from top to bottom. Whereas Miami needs a big game every night from Lebron, San Antonio can weather a poor showing from any of its top players.
Ironically, the spurs benefit from the fact that they don’t have any star players. Tim Duncan was once a superstar but has now contented himself with being an old but still dominant center. Tony Parker could be a superstar in a different life, but Popovich’s style has forced him to sacrifice his individual dominance for the collective good of the team.
As for the role players, San Antonio has more effective interchangeable parts than Miami. Ginobili is still very effective as a part-time energizer off the bench. Australian import Patty Mills is electrifying when subbing for Parker. Kawhi Leonard is that do-it-all forward that all effective teams have.
Popovich has even managed to coax good play out of a group of cast-offs like Boris Diaw (Parker’s teammate on the French national team) and Marco Belinelli. It seems that everything he touches turns to gold, and his Spurs are a well-oiled machine.
Think of Miami as a dragon and San Antonio as a hydra. Cut off Miami’s head (Lebron) and the beast will die. Cut off any of San Antonio’s heads (Duncan, Parker or Ginobili) and a new one grows in its place. Miami appears to be more fierce on the surface, but San Antonio provides a more difficult overall matchup.
What bettors should look for in the 2014 NBA Finals
Bookmakers like Bodog, Bet365 and BetVictor favoring the Spurs over the Heat made gambling news, but it’s the right pick. They have a better chance of winning. As for prop bets, the Spurs-Heat series doesn’t provide as many opportunities as a Thunder-Heat series would have.
Punters won’t be able to place wagers on the Lebron James-Kevin Durant individual match-up which everyone was looking forward to seeing. Instead, they’ll be stuck placing bets on boring things like how many rebounds Tim Duncan will grab or how many European players will be on the court at once.
But look at the bright side. Two great teams are facing off for the championship. Last year they went down to the wire, and this year will likely be the same. Lebron is looking for a third championship to build his case for being the greatest player of all time and Duncan is looking for one more feather in his cap before his career winds down. Gear up, it’s going to be good.