2014 NBA Finals: 3 questions and a prediction

It’s Big Three vs. Big Three, Part II: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh lead the Miami Heat into a 2013 NBA Finals rematch against Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs.

The Heat defeated the Spurs in seven games in last season’s Finals en route to their second straight NBA championship. Can San Antonio, which has won four world titles of its own since 1999, earn some payback?

Tune in for LIVE finals coverage beginning TONIGHT at 5:30pm on ABC15!

Here are three questions and a prediction for the 2014 NBA Finals:

1. Will home-court advantage turn the tables? The Heat took advantage of their home-court edge against the Spurs in last year’s matchup; after losing Game 1 in Miami, they won Games 2, 6 and 7 at home to secure a second straight title. But the Spurs have the home-court advantage this time around.

Home court has meant a lot to the Heat this season – they went 32-9 in Miami during the regular season, but just 22-19 away from home. (For comparison’s sake, the Suns also went 22-19 on the road this season). They Heat have also been 8-0 at home but just 4-3 on the road in this season’s playoffs. Can the Heat steal a game in San Antonio – and just as importantly, can they protect their own home court, considering that the Spurs enjoyed an NBA-best 30-11 regular-season road record?

2. Who will shoot the 3 ball better? Both teams lit up the scoreboard from 3-point range in the 2013 NBA Finals – the Heat shot 43.2%, while the Spurs shot 40.7%. That success carried over to the 2013-14 regular season, as the Heat and Spurs were No. 1 and 2 in the league, respectively, from beyond the arc.

However, only one team has been great at defending the 3-point shot of late. The Spurs have limited opponents to 33.6% thus far in the playoffs, compared to Miami’s 38.1%. Will the Heat be able to equal the Spurs’ prowess on both sides of the 3-point line in the rematch?

3. Will Parker be able to play, produce? The top concern for the Spurs headed into this series is the health of Parker, their point guard and leading scorer who missed most of their series-clinching win against the Oklahoma City Thunder with a sprained ankle.

Reports on Tuesday suggest that Parker will be ready to go for Game 1 against Miami – but even if he’s able to play, he’ll be looking to improve upon his performance in last year’s Finals, when he shot just 41.2% from the field and averaged 15.7 points per game, 4.6 fewer than his 2012-13 season average.

Prediction: The Spurs enjoyed a rebounding edge of 2.5 boards per game in last year’s Finals, thanks largely to Duncan and Kawhi Leonard, who averaged 12.1 and 11.1 rebounds per game, respectively. If Parker can get and stay healthy, San Antonio’s rebounding edge, combined with its 3-point offense, 3-point defense and home-court advantage, should be the difference. Spurs in 7.

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