A look at the matchups of the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, who will meet starting Thursday in the NBA Finals.
Spurs: Tony Parker has been LeBron Lite in the playoffs, leading San Antonio in scoring (23.0 points per game) and assists (7.2) and even chipping in with four rebounds. His ability to get to the basket is uncanny.
Heat: Mario Chalmers has quietly built a resume as a very capable big-game player. He finished the Pacers series as Miami’s third-leading scorer (11.3) with a higher shooting percentage (44.3) than Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh and just seven turnovers.
Edge: Spurs. This is not close. Parker has been the second-best player in the playoffs and Chalmers will be challenged defensively.
Spurs: Danny Green’s development has allowed the Spurs to bring Manu Ginobili off the bench. Green will stretch the defense with his outside shooting — he was eighth in the league with 77 3-pointers — which helps Parker penetrate.
Heat: Which Wade will show up — the one who took on the challenge in Game 7 vs. the Pacers or the one who looked frustrated and limited in the previous three games? A lot will depend on his bruised right knee, which seems to be having its good days and bad days.
Edge: Heat. This one goes to experience even with Wade hobbled. He has averaged 28.2 points in 17 NBA Finals games.
Spurs: Kawhi Leonard is the Spurs’ third-leading scorer in the playoffs (13.0) and is shooting an impressive 56.5 percent, including 41.7 on 3s. But his main focus as the man the Spurs have tabbed as their perimeter stopper is to slow down LeBron James. Good luck.
Heat: What more can be said? James has erased every postseason doubt since a sub-par Finals two years ago against Dallas and now is carrying over his regular-season brilliance to the playoffs, and even upping that a notch.
Edge: Heat. Really? James is the difference in every game, every series, every season.
Spurs: Tim Duncan is going for his fifth ring and still does not get the respect he deserves. He is averaging 22.0 points and 11.9 rebounds in 204 playoff games and retains the prettiest bank shot in history.
Heat: Udonis Haslem has had a resurgence in this postseason. Back in the starting lineup after being replaced by Shane Battier during last year’s playoffs, he had two huge games (17 and 16 points) vs. the Pacers.
Edge: Spurs. Two crafty veterans — Duncan is 37, Haslem turns 33 on Sunday — but this one is a slam dunk or, more appropriately, a sweet J off the glass.
Spurs: At 6-foot-11, Tiago Splitter gives the Spurs a nice presence underneath and lets Duncan play off the block to work his jumper. Splitter is averaging just 6.8 points in the playoffs but usually makes the few he takes, shooting 58.2 percent.
Heat: Chris Bosh showed some signs of breaking out in Game 7 with nine points and eight rebounds, but Miami needs more out of him in this series, especially on the boards. He shot just 37.7 percent and averaged 4.3 boards against Indiana.
Edge: Heat. Splitter is no Roy Hibbert, which should allow Bosh to get back on the boards and under the basket.
Spurs: Manu Ginobili has strengthened a bench that includes 3-point specialist Matt Bonner, point guard Gary Neal and 6-foot-8 center/forward Boris Diaw. Even with Ginobili off target (38.3 percent in this postseason), the four are giving the Spurs more than 26 points a game during the playoffs.
Heat: Chris “Birdman” Andersen was the MVP of the Heat reserves against Indiana, shooting a remarkable 16-of-18 from the floor. Norris Cole was steady but Ray Allen and Shane Battier lost their touch, although Allen showed some life in Game 7.
Edge: Heat. Allen and Ginobili provide the same thing and although both are slumping, Allen has given Miami more. And Birdman has been a huge spark.
Spurs: Gregg Popovich is to San Antonio what Pat Riley is to Miami, except Popovich never moved to the front office. He is in his 17th season with the Spurs and has helped to make San Antonio a model franchise.
Heat: Erik Spoelstra is in his fifth season as head coach. He will be coaching in his third straight NBA Finals and has done more than just roll out the ball and depend on the Big Three. Spoelstra has proven he can adjust in a big spot.
Edge: Spurs. Spoelstra is a Riley disciple but has a long way to go to be mentioned in the group as Popovich.