By Tommy Keeler Jr.
The Miami Heat saved the NBA Finals.
The NBA Finals started on Thursday night, and I think this will be one of the more entertaining finals in quite a while.
It was almost a series that didn't happen, and I'm not going to lie I was sweating it out a little. The Indiana Pacers gave Miami everything it could handle and then some. For six games, it was a dogfight and I was a little worried that Indiana might actually pull it off. Not only was I happy that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Heat rose to the occasion, but so was the NBA, although commissioner David Stern would never admit to it.
San Antonio and Indiana just aren't big TV markets, they don't bring in the money like a city like Miami. Not to mention the Pacers just don't have the star power to get fans to watch. It would have been a snooze fest, and one that many, including myself, would probably have missed.
Luckily Wade finally showed up, as I knew he would, and one of my favorite players, Ray Allen, found his 3-point shot again.
The star power of Miami's "Big 3" of James and Wade and Chris Bosh is important to the NBA and the ratings. The reality is that Miami is a team much like the New York Yankees -- you either love 'em or hate 'em. Either way they draw attention, and everyone will want to see whether they succeed or fail. And in my mind the NBA needs all the help it can get.
The league is doing OK, but it's definitely the same as it used to be when guys like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan all played. Having the Heat in the Finals is definitely good for business.
I think the Heat are the next great dynasty in sports, and I always believe that's a good thing. You have the fans who love to watch a team dominate, and then the many haters who want to see them fall.
Either way we have an NBA Finals that will definitely be worth watching. I'm not sure the series will go the distance, I'm not even sure it will go more than four games, but it will be entertaining.
There are a lot of interesting dynamics with the Spurs and the Heat. First of all, they're both champions. Both teams have players and coaches that have won championships before.
The Spurs might be a little older, but I think they're also a little wiser. San Antonio's "Big 3" of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are as crafty as they come. That alone will help keep the Spurs in the games.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is also very smart, he knows how to get the most out of his players and how to counteract what the opponents are doing.
The Spurs play well together and play great team basketball. In that regard they're fun to watch.
However, to me the bottom line of this series is talent, youth and speed will always win. The Heat are certainly a younger, quicker team. They will want to run up and down on the Spurs, and I think San Antonio could get tired by the end of many of the games.
Miami won the season series 2-0, but both games were decided by five points or less, and I expect more of the same in the Finals.
I think the Spurs will keep the games close, but I still think the Heat will win in six games -- of course, the Heat are also one of my favorite teams. Another championship for the state of Florida is always a good thing as far as I'm concerned.
The main reason I think the Heat will win is they have James and the Spurs don't. James has proven to me that he's up there with the likes of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, and many of the other greats. He's still young, and I think he's on the right track to go down as one of the greatest of all time. The Spurs simply won't be able to stop him, and if the game is close I expect him to take over at the end like so many of the great ones do.
The Spurs have won four championships, and have had their time, but I simply think right now it's Miami's time and all of the NBA is better off for it.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org