San Antonio Spurs will face New Jersey in 2003 Finals

    The New Jersey Nets are on a hot streak. They’ve won 10 games in a row and beat up on the No. 1-seeded Detroit Pistons en route to the finals. That being said, they don’t have a chance of besting the San Antonio Spurs.

    The pride of San Antonio has beaten the best teams in the NBA on their way to what will be their second title in five years. After doing away with a pesky Phoenix team, the Spurs beat the defending world champions and took out the most exciting team in basketball, the Lakers and Mavs, respectively. Unfortunately for Nets fans, Western dominance will continue for at least another year.

    New Jersey did manage a split with the Spurs in two games during the regular season, but that stat is somewhat misleading. The Nets’ victory came in New Jersey early in the year when the team was still adjusting to each other and Manu Ginobili was limping on a bad ankle. When San Antonio was healthy and running on all cylinders, as they are now, they steamrolled the Nets by 14 in San Antonio, holding the “”potent”” New Jersey attack to only 78 points.

    Tim Duncan stands alone as the emotional and physical leader of the Spurs. He is the league’s MVP for the second straight year and is one of the most dominant players that the league has seen in a while (relax, I said one of the most). The fact remains that Duncan is a near-unstoppable force for which the Nets will not have an answer, and which will be their inevitable downfall.

    Aside from Duncan, the Spurs have one of the most underrated supporting casts in the league. Let’s not forget that David Robinson, while at the end of his career, is one of the best centers to ever play the game. His desire to win a championship in his final year makes him a dangerous presence in the low post.

    Tony Parker has emerged as one of the most solid, consistent point guards in the league. He is no Jason Kidd, but he does what his team needs him to do. Paired with Ginobili, Stephen Jackson, Steve Kerr and Steve Smith, the Spurs have a quintet of shooters that can make any team respect the inside game of Duncan and Robinson.

    While the Spurs’ offense has been tremendous this postseason, the team always goes back to its staple of defense. Leading the way in the defensive charge is Duncan, who has the ability to alter any shot, even if it is only the fear of a block. Right behind him is Bruce Bowen, who is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league (Bowen has also been knocking down the trifecta this year, adding another weapon to the Spurs’ arsenal). Malik Rose’s low-post presence also adds to the Spurs’ tall, physical defense, which should have its way with New Jersey’s half-court set.

    The Nets do have a solid team with Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Kenyon Martin leading an exciting offense, but the New Jersey team doesn’t play the kind of basketball needed to beat the Spurs. So far in the playoffs, the Nets have beat a lot of jump-shooting, up-tempo teams that hit cold streaks in the playoffs and paid for it. New Jersey has yet to play a team like the Spurs, which can defend against the fast break (they did so against the Suns, Lakers and Mavs) and also score inside and out.

    In the end, the Spurs are too big and physical for the Nets and have too many weapons. New Jersey will not roll over in the series, but they also won’t put up too much of a fight. The Spurs will take this one in six if the Nets are cranking on all cylinders. If not, this could be a quick series.

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