A position-by-position look at the matchups in the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs:
Chris Bosh vs. Tim Duncan. Bosh had two strong games against the Spurs this season and will focus more on that than his difficult Eastern Conference finals against Indiana. Tony Parker does most of San Antonio’s offensive damage now, but Duncan showed he’s still their man at the biggest moments in the Western Conference finals. Edge: Spurs.
Udonis Haslem vs. Tiago Splitter. Neither will score often, but the veteran Haslem had a pair of big performances in the East finals. Splitter often converts when he gets it, making 58 percent of his shots in the postseason. Edge: Even.
LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard. James cemented himself as the game’s best player when he was the MVP of last year’s NBA Finals, and the gap probably grew when he added a fourth regular-season award this year. Leonard is a versatile young player who finds many ways to influence a game. But hoping he, or anyone, can contain James the way the Spurs did six years ago is way too much to ask. Edge: Heat.
Wade vs. Danny Green. Wade is normally better than just about any shooting guard in the league, but he’s not normal right now. Knee pain has limited his explosiveness. Green is hitting 43 percent of his 3-pointers in the playoffs, and the Heat will have to make sure he’s rarely left open. Edge: Heat.
Mario Chalmers vs. Tony Parker. Quick point guards have long given Miami trouble, and Parker figures to do the same now. Besides Chalmers, the Heat may give plenty of time at the point to Norris Cole. Edge: Spurs.
Ray Allen, Chris Andersen, Cole, Shane Battier, Mike Miller and Joel Anthony vs. Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal, Matt Bonner, Boris Diaw, Cory Joseph and DeJuan Blair. This is a far better bench than the Heat have brought to the NBA Finals in either of the last two years. Ginobili has fought through his injuries to make some big plays in this postseason. Edge: Heat.
Erik Spoelstra vs. Gregg Popovich. Spoelstra is a far better coach than when he was outmaneuvered by Dallas’ Rick Carlisle two years ago in his first finals, and probably doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves. It will come if he can beat the coach who many feel is the best in the NBA in four-time champion Popovich. Edge: Spurs.
Brian Mahoney, AP