Thursday 19th April 2018,
The Hoop Doctors

James vs Duncan Finals Rematch: Legacies on the Line

Tears of pain streaming from LeBron James’ face as he wanders the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland area after Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs finish a 4-0 dismantling of the Cavs in the 2007 NBA Finals. Duncan embraces James, being serious at first, and then joking with him, “this is gonna be your league in a little while, but I appreciate you givin’ us this year.”

Highlight of Duncan and James after 2007 Finals:

Six years later, both legacies hang in the balance.

Can LeBron and the Heat repeat? Will James win 2 titles in 3 years, or will he go 1/3?

Will Duncan will one last ring (totaling 5) to pass Shaquille O’Neal and tie Kobe Bryant?

For James the moment for revenge is at hand.

Future Hall of Fame center and 4-time Champion Duncan is 37. James, a 4-time MVP, is 28. Last time they met in the Finals, Duncan’s Spurs demolished James and his Cavs. With an injured Dwayne Wade and a Chris Bosh who only scored 11.0 ppg in the Eastern Conference Finals, can James claim his throne again, or will Duncan, again, celebrate at James’ expense?

Despite factors like injuries, depth, and strategy, James will be the best player on the floor in the series, and nothing should stop him from winning his second consecutive NBA title, not even the highly effective Spurs, right?

Maybe with a healthy Dwayne Wade.

But with Wade playing on half-a-leg and the Spurs Tony Parker (24.5 ppg in WCF) and Manu Ginobili (10.0 ppg) having vintage playoffs, the skies are a bit cloudy for the Heat going into the Finals.

Last time James met Duncan in the Finals was 2007, when the Cavs overachieved making it to the Finals with James, Anderson Varejao, and a cast of role players. When James defeated the mighty Detroit Pistons, who made it to 6 straight conference finals, he shocked the world, especially with his 48-point performance in game 5.

James 48-point Game 5:

Against the then 3-time champion San Antonio Spurs, the Cavs were smoked by the quickness of Parker in transition and the rebounding of the Spurs.

2007 NBA Finals:

LeBron James, now at his peak, has an opportunity rarely afforded to professional athletes, an opportunity for redemption.

2013 Conference Finals
Points Rebounds Assists
Lebron James 29.0 7.2 5.2

James is coming off a 32-point and 8 rebound performance in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. So clearly, James is playing at a great level, but will he get his revenge? The last time he met the Spurs, they took advantage of size, rebounding, and Parker’s quickness in transition.

Before the Indiana Pacers gave the Heat a run for their money in a classic 7-game Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat looked like a clear favorite to meet and beat the Spurs in the Finals.

But, what do we think now?

Bosh was completely outplayed by the big men of the Pacers. In the conference finals, Duncan looked like more than a match for Bosh.

2013 Conference Finals
Tim Duncan 15.5 ppg 9.2 rpg 3.0 bpg
Chris Bosh 11.0 ppg 4.2 rpg 1.0 bpg

Bosh will have to play a lot better in the Finals because Duncan might just dominate him.

At the guard position, Parker is still playing at an MVP-level. With Dwayne Wade injured, the Heat biggest problem besides the Big Fundamental will be Parker. Parker was the 2007 Finals MVP when the Spurs beat James the first time.

2013 Conference Finals

Parker 24.5 ppg 9.5 apg 2.0 spg 3.5 rpg
Wade 15.4 ppg 4.4 apg 1.2 spg 5.1 rpg

Tony Parker 24.5 ppg 9.5 apg 2.0 spg
Dwyane Wade 15.4 ppg 4.4 apg 1.2 spg

Guarding Tony Parker may be the key to James collecting another championship ring. Will he take on that duty himself, or will it be left to Wade and Mario Chalmers?

The Heat have to focus on rebounding, half-court and transition defense.

The Spurs have to control the tempo, limit their turnovers, and try their best to force LeBron James into taking jump shots. Once he gets into the key, he’s almost unstoppable.

Legacies are on the line. Duncan has a HOF career already with 4 rings, but likely wants to catch Kobe with 5. An finally how will this series affect James’ legacy, win or lose?

Rob S. De France is a College and University Instructor of English Composition living in Los Angeles. He has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Rhetoric and Composition. De France has played, coached, and officiated competitive high school basketball in California for many years. Recently, De France, his wife, and another colleague started an internationally read magazine at

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