LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra provide great NBA Finals theatre

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

LeBron James and Erik Spoelstra are well-acquainted with each other.

If you told the NBA community that Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra would clash with LeBron James in an NBA Finals one day back in 2012 or 2013, the picture folks would paint in their minds would be far from today’s reality.

You probably would’ve logically guessed that Spoelstra and Heat executive and one of the great head coaches in league history Pat Riley, recovered from the post-LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh era with wooing and ringing in a fresh new trio of NBA superstars, future Hall of Famers and out-talenting the competition en route back to the NBA Finals.

That couldn’t have been further away from Miami’s process of assembling this eastern conference championship roster. A team built around two stars, much overlooked throughout most of their careers until now in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

In incredibly organic and refreshing fashion, Riley and company have built around those two with great perimeter shooting in Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Two former token white guys and twitter punch lines of the Heat that have become assets of Miami’s game plan.

Jae Crowder is playing the best basketball of his career on both ends. Another largely unheralded, slept on pick up in this mix. Savvy veteran pieces Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala are the glue and big play makers when close games are teetering. That’s seven guys who can legitimately all score in double digits in the same night and have these playoffs.

Contrary to the perception of what a glitz and glam Miami franchise should look like, their culture is centralized around sacrifice, continuity, toughness, and IQ from a player’s standpoint.

In addition, that philosophy combined with the elite coaching of Erik Spoelstra, coming off a fantastic series vs the Boston Celtics in the conference finals where his in-game adjustments solidified himself as sitting in a tier or even two above his counterpart, Brad Stevens. A great coach in his own right.

But Spoelstra, with Gregg Popovich shortly on his way out of coaching and the Spurs no longer being themselves, may be next up if you will in this league. A miraculous statement for a man that was viewed as a potential deterrent or at very best ‘ non-factor’ in the star-studded ‘Heatles’ championships. At one point it was widely reported LeBron wanted Spoelstra fired before they won the title.

And now the formerly much-maligned head coach has risen to the top of the coaching circle. Now he’s back in the finals again with the hungry underdogs, taking on the unstoppable tandem of two top three of the league’s players, including his former player, LeBron.

A juicy finals subplot that should serve as great theatre. Ultimately, like many, I’m taking the Lakers to win the finals in five games.

The interior problems the great LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Dwight Howard pose with the two of the league’s highest IQ guys and playmakers in LeBron and Rajon Rondo to help facilitate that interior domination, will be too much for relatively undersized Miami.

Though it should be noted that Miami’s 2-3 zone defense that gave Boston fits could be beneficial for Spoelstra tonight and throughout the series with collapsing and clogging LeBron James driving lanes coupled with the Lakers spotty perimeter shooting. But as aforementioned the bigs of Los Angeles can break that zone down with proper execution.

dark. Next. Magic numbers to defeat the Heat

We can only hope that Spoelstra and company can upset the applecart and give the Lakers a more competitive series than everyone is expecting. Lord knows we need it as a distraction following that frightening circus from last night that would be just hysterical if it wasn’t so destructive.