In less than 27 hours from now, the start of the 2013 NBA Finals will be under way. And for the third consecutive time representing the East is the Miami Heat. On the other side, the West is being represented by the San Antonio Spurs. Many San Diego natives, and SDSU students–past and current–are pulling for the Spurs for two reasons: The first is Kawhi Leonard–SDSU Basketball great and alumni–will be starting for the Spurs and the second reason is people simply can’t stand the Heat. Leonard will be given the ultimate task of defending the greatest player in the NBA, LeBron James. A player that many deem can’t be guarded. While there may be a valid point as many have tried and failed, Leonard can match up against James very well as we will see very well as we compare the two athletes.
Height: Leonard- 6’7, James- 6’8.
Weight: Leonard- 225, James- 250.
Wingspan: Leonard- 7’3, James- 7′ 0.25″.
Leonard also possess huge hands, measuring 9.8 inches long, and 11.3 inches wide. One could compare these assets to Kevin Durant who has a similar frame to Leonard. But Durant has more body fat, slower agility time, and almost the same vertical as Leonard despite being a little over 3 inches taller than him. So if you think whenever Durant guarded LeBron in the past, it would be a preview of Leonard guarding LeBron in this year’s finals? You’re wrong.
As the title of this article says, “The Key to Defending LeBron James.” This so far has been about comparing the two, now here’s how you guard him. And it’s very simple actually. The key to defending LeBron James is to get physical with him. That’s it, very simple. Don’t go out there and trade punches with the guy, but give him some contact, abuse him in the post, get him to chase on defense. Sure, these things may seem hard because LeBron is so big and muscular. But it’s not, fatigue sets in on everyone no matter how big or how small and while the physical toll and beatings may not show in games 1 or 2, it’ll definitely show later in the series. And it’s been proven that the way to beat the Heat is with physical play and controlling the glass. Comparing sports, you often see this in hockey. In the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships. The American team had a 3-0 lead on Canada in the 1st period, but quickly squandered it away in a matter of 8 minutes, in the same period. Why? Canada went out early and dominated physically since the US played less than 24 hours ago in a 12-0 win. Once they had them where they wanted them, it broke the US down and Canada won 7-4. But in hockey you can hit, in basketball you can’t. But since the Heat just finished a 7 game series which was a grind, and the Spurs who are well rested having last played on May 27th. The Spurs can certainly apply whatever physical play they may have, and grind the Heat down. Regardless though, it will be a good series.
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