The San Antonio Spurs continue to wait patiently for things to be settled in the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Pacers and fans and media are asking which team would the Spurs rather face.
Both teams present issues for the Spurs in the Finals and Boris Diaw weighed in.
In an interview with French site BasketSession.com, Diaw, who is making his first appearance in an NBA Finals, initially picked Miami but changed his mind and noted the Pacers present their issues as well in a seven-game series.
"At first, I rather see Miami advance, but Indiana fails too Heat. Both teams are very strong, they are also two good defensive teams. Miami is more oriented to the outside while the Pacers rely on their inside game with Roy Hibbert. Moreover, the Heat players are struggling to stop ... If you play against Indiana in the Finals, it will be a bit like the series against Memphis but they have Paul George in addition to their outside game, which is very strong. Whatever team we face, there will be adjustments to make. "
Recently, Project Spurs' Finals contributor Phil asked whether the Pacers or Heat would be a favorable match up and felt Indiana would be the better matchup.
I don't agree with the premise of the question. This NBA Final will be very difficult, regardless. Yes, the matchups will be different, depending on which team advances. The key here is for the Spurs to play like there is no tomorrow. There is no next year. Russell Westbrook, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry, and Andrew Bogut were all injured either right before or in the playoffs, and all of these injuries were good breaks for the Spurs. These events won't happen every year. This is it. This is the last chance for Timmy, Manu, Tony, and Pop as a unit. This is a one-way ticket to the NBA Finals. They have to make this count. Both Miami and Indiana have reasonable expectations to make it back next year. Not San Antonio.
Best matchup for the Spurs would be the team that has the most fatigue and injuries. (Suspensions?)
If one considers these factors equal for both teams, I'ld rather see Indiana. They are challenged offensively and we would have the three best players of the Finals (Tim, Tony, Kawhi).
I'm surprised by the article, and Diaw's point towards Indiana more as the difficult matchup than Miami and made convincing points. I still think that Miami is the tougher team...by quite a significant margin. Excluding home court, we are still talking about a team that has the highest upside of any as witness in Game 3 against the Pacers. Wade is indeed struggling and yet has flashes of brilliance that can still close out a team e.g. the Bulls and/or finish alley pop plays and/or shoot efficiently. He's not as explosive and or consistent, seems slower, and is more turnover prone which is good for the Spurs..that is true. Meanwhile, Bosh is living on the outside due to the Pacers defense. Our interior defense should be able to do similar things including a physical Bonner off the bench, a high BBIQ Diaw etc. That said I think the Pacers have more physical and bigger defenders and that should be noted. Meanwhile, Bosh shooting the three does stretch the floor and needs to be accounted for. Which brings me to my next point: The Heat are deeper. The Pacers are thin and though Vogul does a good job mixing his starting five with his bench, the Heat have Birdman, Allen, Battier, and Cole. Allen could still get hot at any time and Battier's shot may still go in anytime though Pop, I'm sure, is able to glean some points at what the Pacers are doing to lower Allen and Battier's shooting. Birdman, lives off, the Heat and notably LeBron's penetration similar to what're doing with Parker (though our offense has much more options with Duncan's pick and pop and Tiago rolling etc etc) so Birdman presents at the very least someone that must be accounted for with the corner of the eye with our defense. Meanwhile, Haslem presents spacing and good shooting though I think that he is "using up his hot shooting" and will regress back to his mean. Meanwhile, the Pacers due to inexperience are still turnover prone and their offense is not that developed. Hibbert can be denied the ball in the post by Miami and they don't seem to have any plays for him other than to feed him the ball. The Pacers look unsure, at times, in their offensive sets and sometimes have to rely on Lance S's improvised offense to create offense. And finally, the Heat have LeBron, who I believe Pop can do things to minimize his effectiveness but still must be accounted for.
A more minor point to consider is that while Kawhi has awesome defense, I think George is better at taking LeBron off the dribble in a matchup with Miami. In short, I think that Indiana is an easier/safer pick to beat despite an inconsistent Wade and Bosh who has very little post game. Indiana could beat the Heat because of their size/inside advantage taking over the Heat's weakness but against us, I think that their main advantage is dissipated. Yes, Indiana is similar to Memphis but there are differences. I think Gasol and Allen are better defenders. The Pacers do have better offense than the Grizzles in terms of having outside shooting but their high/low front court chemistry tandem isn't as strong. They rely on David West shooting/post ups or Hibbert hookshots/putbacks (or created plays from their guards) but do not have much in terms of creating for one another from the 4-5 position.
Miami could put Battier and or LeBron on Parker, while Indiana being able to put Hill, Stephenson, George on Parker. Parker is amazing and an expert with utilizing screens, the pick and roll, with his passing, midrange, and drives so it'd be interesting to see.