Much has been made of ‘The Big Three’ of both of this year’s NBA Finals participants, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. And while the Heat are definitely still pretty much LeBron James–Dwyane Wade–Chris Bosh or bust, the Spurs don’t rely on their main trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili quite so heavily. In fact, the Spurs incredible depth and versatility might be the deciding factor in this series.
Here is how much each squad has been depending on their three marquee players for production thus far in the playoffs:
What’s more astounding is the difference in the bench play between the two teams (which one of the Spurs’ Big Three, Ginobili, contributes to). The Spurs bench has been historically good this year, lead by Ginobili,
Swiss French army knife Boris Diaw and, if Matt Bonner continues to start, Tiago Splitter. In fact, in their close out game versus Oklahoma City, the Spurs got 51 points off their bench on only 35 shots. OKC got five points on eight shots. With the Heat basically only getting solid contributions from Ray Allen and Chris Andersen off their bench, the contrast between the two teams’ benches could be just as stark in the Finals.
You could actually argue that the Spurs aren’t really a “Big Three” any longer, and more of a “Big Four” with the emergence of Kawhi Leonard over the past two seasons (on a complete aside, I’d probably take Leonard over Paul George if I ran a team. Which I don’t. Sadly.). Leonard’s superb, understated play at both ends of the floor, and freakish athleticism and physical makeup (hands, wingspan), could make him the deciding factor in this series.
And it’s not just the Spurs depth that make them so dangerous – it’s the versatility, too. They’ve got the best coach in the game in Gregg Popovich, and he definitely knows how to best utilize all of his talented pieces. The Spurs can push the ball and run. They can pound it inside. They have a big man in Diaw who can facilitate their offense and hit three’s. They have a erratic genius in Ginobili who can strike from anywhere at anytime. They have three-point bombers in Bonner and Danny Green. They can D up with the best of them, with Duncan and Leonard among the best in the League. This is an extremely dangerous, deep, and versatile team.
But, of course, LeBron can make all of this a moot point.