After delivering an epic seven-game series in the 2013 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs might have something just as special in store for us in the coming weeks.
“I don’t think we could have structured anything more special as far as redemption and a team that’s saying, ‘Bring it,’” NBA analyst Bruce Bowen said on The MoJo Show. “Miami’s going to come in ready to play. This is what I don’t think people truly understand. Last year, they took San Antonio for granted and were very fortunate behind the heroic three-point shot and hustle of Chris Bosh and Ray Allen. So now everyone’s paying attention to detail. I don’t think you’re going to see the same type of LeBron James that you saw last year that was trying to figure things out through the first four games of the seres.”
The Spurs, however, will be ready – not to mention motivated, especially after last year’s crushing loss in Game 6.
“That loss really bothered him,” Bowen said of Gregg Popovich. “Pop is a guy that’s pretty laid back. He’s able to deal with certain circumstances and he says, ‘Hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.’ But when you have an opportunity to (get) a rebound or contest a shot – those are the things that bothered him most. It wasn’t as if someone had some incredible game and they went for 70 against the Spurs. It was a simple play that guys have gone over time and time again. That’s just rebounding and boxing out.”
That one play has motivated the Spurs for the past 12 months.
“People don’t understand this,” Bowen said. “As a player, when I won my first NBA championship, I felt like that trophy belonged to me. So when we didn’t win it the following year, I felt like that was my girlfriend going to prom with somebody else. It really does become addictive. And you want to make sure that’s in your presence all the time.”
The fact that the Spurs have until Thursday to rest is extremely important – and not just because they’re a veteran team. Rather, Tony Parker is dealing with a sprained ankle. He hopes to play in Game 1.
Can the Spurs win a title if Parker is not healthy?
“I’m going to say it in Spanish: no,” Bowen said with a slight accent. “With Tony, he does so much for them. He’s asked to score, he gets into the paint creating fouls, he kicks the ball out for shooters, he runs the offense – and you just don’t have guys coming off the bench that are able to necessarily do those types of things. If you did, they would be playing. I think with Tony, he needs to be at least 90 percent for them to have a chance.”
While Bowen is known for winning three titles with the Spurs, he made his NBA debut with the Heat in 1997, not long after Erik Spoelstra entered the league. Bowen, who is good friends with Spoelstra, also played for Pat Riley.
Needless to say, it’s very difficult for Bowen to pick a winner in this series – but he is picking the Spurs in seven.
“It is really difficult because of my close ties to both organizations,” Bowen said, “but being that San Antonio has the home-court advantage, I’ll go with San Antonio because that home-court advantage proves very vital, as we saw last year with the Miami Heat.”