Spurs: Kawhi Leonard a versatile, athletic wing player who can defend, shoot and blends in seamlessly with the Spurs stars displayed impressive growth during the regular season (11.9 points, 49.4 percent shooting) and has been even better in the playoffs (13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.6 steals, 56.5 percent shooting) while averaging 37 minutes about six more than the regular season. He served up 17 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in his one game against the Heat, albeit without LeBron James playing that night.
Heat: James has authored a magnificent postseason, even more impressive considering he has needed to compensate for a diminished Dwyane Wade and a slumping Chris Bosh through part of this run. He leads the Heat in scoring (26.2), rebounds (7.3) and assists (6.4) while shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 38.7 on threes. James embraced defending bulkier David West during fourth-quarter stretches of the Eastern finals and likely will be needed to guard one of the Spurs big men at times when the Heat goes small. And he also might draw the assignment on Tony Parker for short bursts.
Spurs: Evan at 37, future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan continues to perform at an All-Star level. Hes averaging 17.8 points in the playoffs equaling his regular-season average, though his shooting percentage has dropped from 50.2 to 46.1. His rebounding is down very slightly from the regular season (9.9 to 9.2), but thats much higher than any Heat power rotation player. Duncan delivered 17 points and 12 rebounds in his one game against the Heat but missed a late jumper over Udonis Haslems outstretched arms. The Heat hopes to draw him away from the basket, but Bosh or Haslem will need to be swishing jump shots for that strategy to be fully effective.
Heat: With 8-for-9 shooting performances in Games 3 and 5, Haslem was as responsible as anybody (excluding James) for two of the Heats wins against Indiana. His points are up from the regular season (to 6.3) and rebounds down (3.9) while playing about six minutes more per game. Haslem has had some success defending Duncan and should draw the assignment at least part of the time. While Duncan is a more polished offensive player than Roy Hibbert, Duncan is also three inches shorter, leaving Haslem at a three-inch deficit.
Spurs: Tiago Splitter has developed into a capable starter a pretty good passer and decent rebounder with touch around the basket, especially with his right jump hook and the mobility to chase Bosh to the perimeter. His numbers have declined from the regular season in points (10.3 to 6.8) and rebounds (6.4 to 3.7). But hes shooting 58.2 percent in the playoffs, even better than his 56 percent in the regular season. Some of those baskets come on putbacks, so the Heat must keep him off the offensive boards something it didnt do effectively against Indianas Hibbert.
Heat: Bosh had a dreadful Eastern Conference Finals (11.0 points, 4.3 rebounds) and ended it with four consecutive games with single digit scoring. But Indiana was also the worst possible matchup for him. Defending Splitter will take less of a toll that guarding Hibbert or West, and rebounds should come easier, too. And though neither Duncan nor Parker played, Bosh was terrific in his one game against the Spurs this season, hitting the game-winning three-pointer with 1.9 seconds left and closing with 23 points and 9 rebounds.