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Thursday, June 6, 2013
Prediction: Heat over the Spurs in 7

By Dick Vitale
ESPN.com

We are ready for a great NBA finale.

The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs battle in a thrilling series. Can LeBron James & Co. go back-to-back? Will the LeBron haters come out in full force if the Heat lose to the Spurs?

King James has been brilliant in the postseason. He is the best player in the world and his versatility is something special. He does everything well: scoring, rebounding, passing, defense. He makes his teammates better, and you saw his leadership skills in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Indiana Pacers.

Will Dwyane Wade play the way he did in that Game 7 versus the Pacers? He has to come through despite playing with pain due to a knee injury. Chris Bosh has to put up better numbers and be more like Chris Bosh.

Miami needs more help from the supporting cast. Ray Allen had a big first half in Game 7 versus Indiana. His long-range shooting ability can open up the lane for James, Wade and Bosh. Chris "The Birdman" Andersen has been a positive contributor as a scorer and rebounder. Norris Cole provides a spark in the backcourt coming off the bench. Mario Chalmers has to play to his ability in this series, too.

The Spurs come into the Finals well-rested after beating the Memphis Grizzlies in four straight. This is a veteran team that has been to the winner's circle plenty of times thanks to the Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. They have that winner's mentality and have played so well this postseason.

Outside of James, Parker may be the star of stars in this year's playoffs. He has been brilliant with his passing and shooting.

Duncan is the best power forward of all time. He quietly goes about his business. Ginobili can put points on the board from long distance.

I think Gregg Popovich is the best coach in all of pro sports. I know some people may scream that it is Bill Belichick, but I would go with Popovich. He is a surefire future Hall of Famer. He has found ways to get his players rest during the season, and they are always well-prepared for each series. He gets the most out his people.

San Antonio has some talent on the bench, and the reserves can be important here. Keep an eye on Kawhi Leonard as a player who can give the team a lift.

When it is all said and done, I feel that LeBron James will lead the Heat to an exciting series victory in seven games. I believe the home-court advantage will be a major factor as the Heat celebrate on South Beach.

Some will say the Heat are tired after the seven-game series against the Pacers, but I don't buy that. Miami has been on a mission all season, winning 66 games during the regular season. It is time for LeBron to grab the gold trophy and move a step closer in the argument over who's the best of all time. Right now, that title belongs to Michael Jordan, aka Michael the Magnificent.