Analysis: The best player in the world continues to improve. LeBron James averaged career-highs in field goal percentage (56.5), three-point percentage (40.6) and rebounds (8.0) in leading the Heat to the NBA's best record and a 12-game lead over the No. 2 seed Knicks in the Eastern Conference. A stretch from February 3 to March 25 defined the Heat's season, as the team rattled off 27 consecutive victories, the second-longest winning streak in league history. Since losing to the Bulls on March 27, Miami has gone 10-1 despite resting their stars for a playoff push.
The team will attempt its title defense with a bench that's a bit more robust than the squad that beat the Thunder in five games in last year's Finals. Among the new faces are Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis and Chris Anderson. Allen, who turns 38 in July, has embraced his new role as sixth man, providing the second unit with perimeter shooting.
Miami is heavily favored to return to the Finals, but New York and Indiana are both capable of hanging with James and co. in a seven-game series.
Analysis: Age has been a lingering discussion with the San Antonio Spurs for quite some time, but an obstacle they've successfully been able to hurdle in the past. Alas, one of the pitfalls of senescence is vulnerability to injury, a problem that's muddled their outlook for the 2013 playoffs. Manu Ginobili is nursing a hamstring that puts his availability in doubt. Though he's been on the court, Tony Parker is dealing with a plethora of ailments to his ankle, neck and leg. Even Boris Diaw, who's provided a solid presence off the bench for the team, is out for the next month after undergoing back surgery. Has Father Time finally taken its toll on the Silver and Black?
Not if Tim Duncan has anything to say about it. The venerable Duncan is showing no signs of decrepitude, averaging 17.8 points and 9.9 boards this season in just 30 minutes of game time. More impressive is the 14-time All-Star's 2.7 blocks per game, his highest mark since the 2003-04 season, and his career-best 81.7 percentage from the charity stripe. Kawhi Leonard is emerging as a potential star for the Spurs, and Tiago Splitter and Danny Green are serving as sound complements, but if San Antonio holds any aspirations of a championship run, it will be on the back of its 36-year-old franchise player.
Chances of Winning NBA Finals: Heat 53.4% - Spurs 19.1%
Series MVP: LeBron James - 24.4 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 7.5 APG
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