The next three days is going to change the landscape of the NBA. The Heat and Spurs will play game six on Tuesday and if needed game seven on Thursday night to determine the 2013 NBA champion of the world. It has been a series less about the dramatic and more about ‘what the hell was that'? While neither team has decided exactly who is in control, they have swapped blowout wins and each team took a game in the other's home gym.
So how exactly does a non-competitive series change the trajectory of the NBA?
It has been nearly three years since LeBron James announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach and ultimately joined Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to form the greatest trio in sports and/or entertainment since Hulk Hogan dropped the leg on Randy Savage at Bash at the Beach and formed the NWO. The Heat and the big three have made it to the Finals all three seasons since the move and have one title to show for it. In the first year, an upstart Dallas squad squashed Miami's plans the first year, the Heat won in convincing fashion last year leaving everyone wondering if they were on the path to a dynasty.
Not so fast.
Before the Heat start sizing a second finger for a championship rings, a veteran team from San Antonio that has never lost in the NBA Finals has thrown a big wrench into the equation.
Like the Mavericks, the Spurs enjoy a 3-2 series lead have two chances to win on Miami's home court. Shooting the ball at a blistering pace, the Spurs connected on 60 percent of their field goals in game five. Two games prior, they made 16 three-point field goals in their blow out win to take a 2-1 series lead. Head coach Greg Popovich has played chess with Eric Spoelstra and has his coaching counterpart at check-mate for game six.
If the Spurs win the series, the big-three experiment in Miami will be considered a failure. It also might change the way NBA franchises look at building their teams. The aging Spurs are in the position they are in because of names like Danny Green, Kiwhi Leonard and Gary Neal. Sure Manu Ginobili turned back the clock and scored 24 points in the game five win, but it has been the little known players that have stepped on to the biggest stage and performed. The Heat have sacrificed offense for defense by entering Mike Miller into the starting lineup for Udonis Haslem and going to Shane Battier instead of tough guy Chris Anderson. The Spurs countered by watching Ginobili start and take Miller to school. Ray Allen played 30 minutes in game five scoring 21 points leaving Popovich and his Spurs licking their chops heading back to Miami.
If the Heat can win two games in a row, something that hasn't been done in the Finals this year, they will have won back-to-back and the talk of a dynasty will continue. Despite that, there are serious flaws with the way Pat Riley has built this team. The Heat struggled with Indiana in the conference finals and watched as the Pacers took them to the brink of elimination. Bosh and Wade have spent the majority of the playoffs unimpressive and the biggest thing we have learned about James although he is often talked about with Michael Jordan as the best ever, he hasn't been capable of taking over and putting his team on his back when it matters. He needs a second or a third option in order to be successful.
In the arms race not seen since the 80's, teams have stacked superstars in an attempt to win it all. Absolutely, there needs to be a superstar or at least two for a team to make a serious run, but depth has proven to be the ultimate necessity. Unlike the Heat, the Spurs have continued to add pieces including Green, Leonard and Neal to their roster that boasts an aging Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobili. After the Heat brought the big three together, they have added older pieces including Ray Allen, Chris Anderson and Shane Battier who may still have some offensive game, but do little to bolster the grit and defensive presence of the team.
If the Heat fail to win the next two games, they can look at how they built their roster as the biggest reason why. If that does happen, they will likely blow everything up and look to trade Chris Bosh. With an aging and breaking down Dwayne Wade, the team that was thought to win seven, eight, nine titles might be stuck with the loneliest of them all.