By Matt Rochinski
Here we go. A battle for the ages. The wily veteran against the young, up-and-comer. No, I’m not talking about the Heat and Spurs yet – I’m talking about Cats TV Play-By-Play Announcer Steve Martin bringing his nine years of experience with the Bobcats, 14 years of experience with the former Charlotte Hornets and 26 years of experience announcing for Raycom head-to-head against Rufus on Fire Managing Editor and former bobcats.com intern Ben Swanson. Much like the NBA Playoffs, it’s a two-horse race now, with Swanson leading Martin by four points. They’re both picking different teams in the 2013 NBA Finals, and with the winner getting four points, the title is up for grabs. Me? I’m just hoping not to finish in last place, as I still have a chance of overtaking Scott Lauer. On to the predictions…
No. 1 Miami Heat vs. No. 2 San Antonio Spurs
Martin: I don’t think LeBron James is enough to beat the Spurs. The Heat are starting to realize the need for a true point guard.
Prediction: Spurs in six
Swanson: Before the last series, I would have handed a close Finals victory to Miami. But with so many weaknesses showing from Miami after their battles against the Pacers, I'm not so sure. San Antonio brings balance, experience, execution and brilliant coaching. Miami does too, but the Spurs are better on offense than Indiana is, which leaves the Heat with a smaller margin of error if Wade and Bosh again struggle to contribute. I don't think that will happen again.
Prediction: Heat in seven
Lauer: I'm still steaming from just missing out on my "Pacers in 7" prediction in the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami delivered, and they'll be rewarded. The stars were held out for both teams during their visits to the other’s city this season – an interesting side story. I would expect LeBron James to spend some time guarding Tony Parker, who had a fabulous series vs. Memphis. The Spurs are more of perimeter base team than the Pacers, so I think that the Heat will have a slightly easier series than they just had.
Prediction: Heat in six
Rochinski: It took Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh seven games, but they finally showed up for the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals as Miami took down the Pacers in a brutal series. Some say this will be the catalyst that vaults Miami to back-to-back championships, but I’m not buying it. We know LeBron is going to bring it, but the Heat’s “Big Three” need to show up consistently if they’re going to take down the Spurs. Tony Parker is playing at the highest level of his career. Tim Duncan has been re-energized all season as the Spurs make another run. San Antonio swept the Grizzlies out of the Western Conference Finals and has had 11 days to rest up. Sorry to disappoint you Steve, but I’m siding with you on this one. It’s time to raise another banner at the AT&T Center.
Prediction: Spurs in six
Swanson - Round 1 (6), Round 2 (4x2=8), Round 3 (2x3=6) – 20 total points
Martin - Round 1 (5), Round 2 (3x2=6), Round 3 (2x3=6) – 17 total points
Lauer - Round 1 (5), Round 2 (3x2=6), Round 3 (1x3=3) – 14 total points
Rochinski - Round 1 (4), Round 2 (3x2=6), Round 3 (1x3=3) – 13 total points