“Spoelstra … He Deserve a Jersey for What He Gon’ Have to Do.”

An NBA Finals Preview

To help us close out a historic NBA season, we brought back our good friends Channing Frye and Iman Shumpert to explain the stakes, place bets and analyze the most valuable players in the 2020 NBA Finals. Get your popcorn.

Iman Shumpert
Game 2. Let’s lay it out. What we checking for tonight? 

Channing Frye
We’re checking to see if Miami can steal one. That’s what we’re checking for. If Miami can come out here and steal one and turn it into a series with Game 2, then it’s going to be a series.

Shump
Right. That’s right. You’ve got a bunch of young guys with a ton of confidence AND Jimmy Butler gassing them up? When you can burst that type of energy throughout a team … if they can get back to that in this game ... it could become a problem.

Channing
But on the other hand ... the bubble is also a perfect situation for LeBron….

Shump
Oh, most definitely. Having everything right here in front of his hands??? Like he can be at home staying locked in and watching basketball a lot. Like that’s scary for somebody like that, you know what I’m saying? Like—

Channing
O.K., O.K., hold up!! Lol. That’s perfect. This is how we’ll do it this time. Let’s just go player by player. Whose performance will have the biggest impact in the finals? Like who can really change things when they’re on the floor.

Shump
O.K. Top 15. Altogether. We’ll do it like that.

Channing
And then we’ll give them a winner.

Shump
Oh, absolutely.

LeBron James 

Shump
Let’s just call it like it is. Bron gon’ have his way. This is part of what makes me believe in the bubble, because especially at this point in his career, this is a challenge. It’s like, to keep your body conditioned during that break, then to pick back up and start rolling — I think it’s pretty impressive.

Channing
I think for me, the grind of it, the mental grind of it — it needs to be put out there that those players in Orlando right now are in such a unique situation. It’s nothing anyone has ever gone through, or will ever go through again. Nothing like it.

Shump
Agree. 

Channing
So, we look at the teams in the Finals: the Lakers and the Miami Heat. And I would say both of those teams are probably the two most prepared teams in the NBA. I just feel like it comes down to their discipline when it comes to their bodies, and the mental aspect of them constantly believing that they had a chance to win it. And I think for LeBron, this is right in the realm of his natural routine. He doesn’t have to go anywhere. He’s just constantly studying teams and watching and learning and adjusting. 

Shump
Right. And what will happen on the floor is, I think he’s gonna hold it in his pocket until the end of the game and then run it over and over again. You know what I’m talking about? It’s gonna be a three, one pick-and-roll and I’m going to watch it happen. 

Channing
And he’ll be gone. Just gone. That is the worst feeling ever.

Shump
And he’s gon’ run it over and over and over. He might yell it out for everybody to hear that he’s gonna do it again. I just don’t want to see this over and over. But it’s gon’ happen real slow, and they’re going to bring AD right there to the lip, right there in the lane. And he shoots the best 12-foot, 14-foot fadeaway I’ve ever seen from a seven-footer.

Channing
Dirk?

Shump
Dirk used to like to ... he’d get back on that one foot so he could balance out how close that is. AD will turn around and shoot that.

Channing
Yeah.

Shump
He sprints from the short corner, comes right there to the front of the free throw line, catches that and knocks that down. That’s so scary, dog. Because if you beat him there it’s just a lob. 

Anthony Davis

Shump
1. Is. A. Cannibal.

Channing
Yeah, he’s killer. He’s killer! And the thing is, I’m wondering, who does Bam guard, right?

Shump
He gotta guard AD. What do you mean “who”? Lol

Channing
He can’t. He can’t guard AD, because if Bam gets in foul trouble, right? Then Miami—

Shump
Wow. You have no confidence in my guy, that’s crazy.

Channing
I do! I have a lot of confidence in my guy, but also—

Shump
Uh-uh, because you just put “Two Brows” on him right out the gate! That’s crazy.

Channing
Listen, it’s not that crazy.

Shump
Let’s just talk about AD for a sec. Let’s break down his impact. O.K., AD gets so many energy points. AD gets tip-ins, offensive rebounds, long rebounds that he can collect and knock down an 18-footer. Anything to get him back in rhythm at the free throw line. He’s another one like James Harden — if he can get in a couple of free throws, it really warms his shot up.

Channing
Absolutely. He’s amazing.

Shump
And the way he plays, the extra possessions that he gets just increase his impact on the floor. If he’s not shooting the ball, well, he’ll still get his 25, and he’ll grab you 10, 15, rebounds. I’m not really worried about that. It’s just him playing hard, and he’s going to play hard as hell. Bam is going to force him to play, so he’s gonna play ball.

Channing
Right.

Jimmy Butler

Channing
I have Bam three.

Shump
No, no, no. Now, don’t do that. Jimmy Butler. 

Channing
More important than Bam? No way.

Shump
Yes, bro! He closes the game! What are you talking about?

Channing
No way. I’m going to disagree.

Shump
What are we talking about right now? No, no, Channing. What are we talking about right now?

Channing
Bam anchors the WHOLE defense.

Shump
He anchors the whole defense. At the end of the game, you can’t give Bam the ball and say, “Win me the game.” Stop playing with me right now, Channing.

Channing
But the game has to stay close, though. The game has to be close.

Shump
The game gon’ be close, boy!! This is the Finals. I don’t know how it happens, but it ain’t finna be another blowout.

Channing
One of these is going to be another blowout.

Shump
Listen, whether it’s the refs, whether somebody gets hot ... it ain’t finna be another blowout. The basketball gods ain’t gonna let it happen. I don’t know why ... they just not gon’ let it happen. So, now at the end of the game, could we agree that Jimmy Butler gets the ball before Bam?

Channing
Aaaah….

Shump
Can we agree? Can we hug?

Channing
Nah, I don’t agree with that, but go ahead.

Bam Adebayo

Shump
Alright, give me a hug. Lol. O.K. Now, we go Bam. Right after Jimmy Butler, immediately after, though. I’m talking ’bout we RIGHT on his backpack. He might as well give him a piggyback ride, that’s how close Bam is.

Channing
Bam is the most important piece for Miami — when he’s HEALTHY. Above Jimmy. Above Tyler Herro. He is the person that runs that whole offense. He’s running those screen-and-rolls, the dribble handoffs….

Shump
Just the dribble handoffs, oh my God.

Channing
Yeah it’s crazy, right? And so if they don’t have him—

Shump
And he moves it with pace. He can handle it a little bit, too. It’s a lot like Montrezl Harrell — just a taller version.

Channing
Uhh, I would say more of a Draymond Green. A freakish, athletic Draymond Green.

Shump
Mmmmmmmmm…….?????

Channing
I mean Shump, Draymond had 32 on us in Game 7. So, let’s not, you know….

Shump
Hey, hey, heyy, I didn’t say nothing about that. You don’t have to remind me. Lol.

Channing
They run that same dribble handoff, slip to the rim, kick out for three. Like, he’s unselfish to a fault.

Shump
Yeah, I get it.

Channing
But he can also score 30 when they need it. In that closeout game against Boston, he had 32. He was getting buckets. I just think if Miami is successful in their zone, it’s because of Bam. And if they can hide Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson from LeBron….

Shump
For the record, I hate that, though.

Channing
LOL. I think it’s absolutely hilarious. Not enough guys have gone to college and practiced against the zone enough to really use it. 

Shump
I hate it.

Channing
But here’s the thing! How long can you hide Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson from Bron and AD? That’s what I want to know. How long can you hide them? 

Duncan Robinson

Shump
See now, see once it gets here, I don’t have an order. I just want to make that clear. Once it gets here, I don’t have an order because all of these guys can pop out.

Channing
Right. Let’s just say Duncan. Let’s start there.

Shump
I call him Woody. He looks like Woody off of Toy Story.

Goran Dragić

Shump
So, Bam’s the anchor. Jimmy’s the closer. Dragić’s thing is just his experience alone and his ability to make defenses react to him. But the thing is … they got so many dudes hurt right now….

Channing
Yes.

Shump
But if he play, his ability to do that is gonna make him EXTREMELY important, because he’s the guy that gets AD in foul trouble. He’s the guy that puts Kyle Kuzma on the bench from a couple of quick, dumb-ass fouls. We’ll give him that importance right there. Right?

Channing
It’s a big IF though, right?

Shump
Definitely.

Tyler Herro

Shump
Tyler Herro because he’s a young dude with nuts, right?

Channing
Hahahahahaha.

Shump
No, seriously. I’ve never seen anybody with a pair like that. And with all the injuries, he has to bring that to Game 2. How he’s playing right now ... people don’t really realize what he’s doing, but he’s out of his mind right now.

Channing
Oh, I’m not disagreeing at ALL. It’s crazy.

Shump
It’s the pace and the control. It’s his attack. It’s the hang dribbles, it’s the never letting your feet get comfortable when you guard him. It’s the, at the end of the game, you can give him the ball and he’s not erratic. He’s not tripping and falling. He’s making good decisions. He’s putting the ball on the rim so even if he misses, Bam gets a good rebound from him shifting the defense. He doesn’t take wild shots. He’ll take tough ones, but not wild. Everything is done with confidence, and that eases everybody on the court. I just haven’t seen that out of a young guy that comes in while his team is making a run for the championship. Most times rookie guys get a couple of rounds in, and you’ll see the “eyes get big” moments. I haven’t seen his deer-in-the-headlights moment. It’s just not gonna come. And that’s a surprise to me. I don’t know, Channing, if you knew this was coming and I just didn’t know about this. But I didn’t know that man could play like that.

Channing
I didn’t either. I knew he could shoot, and I thought he would get sped up in the playoffs. But because Miami’s half-court offense is literally predicated on him running around like a wild man, he’s just become more and more familiar with how people are going to guard him. Switch, go under, go over. But his conditioning, again, dude, unreal. Unreal.

Rajon Rondo

Shump
Rondo is important for the same reasons as Dragić. Him just knowing ball, knowing the opportunities….

Channing
Yeah. And hitting open shots.

Shump
YES. Knowing how to beat the zone. Rondo’s going to look at that zone and laugh. He’s gon’ palm the ball with both hands and throw it wherever you want him to put it — on the money. He’s able to switch one, two, three. Rajon Rondo is a very underrated piece of what’s going on. He’s already a champion, so he knows what’s going on. And he never lacks the confidence to do this shit at the end of the game. That’s what I like about him. There gon’ be a lot of blood spilled when Rondo has the ball and is making decisions. If they get rowdy, you’ll see Rajon Rondo come into play.

Channing
Totally.

Shump
Like he’s one of those guys, just like Jason Kidd, where there are plenty of times people who are watching the game are like, “Oh, Jason Kidd, I don’t even know why he out there right now.” But players see how he comes in, puts it together at the end of the game, and we leave plus five. You know what I’m saying? 

Channing
Oh yeah. 

Shump
Those are the moments that come to my mind when I think Rondo. At the end of the game, people are getting a little rattled, all this other stuff, Rajon Rondo gets a steal, walks it up, makes sure AD gets a dunk, as opposed to another fadeaway, they walk into a timeout, and everybody breathes deep. 

Jae Crowder

Channing
So, Crowder after that?

Shump
Mm-hmm. Crowder gon’ be important because he rebounds.

Channing
Hits the open three….

Shump
Exactly. He’s their guy who’s going to capitalize on broken plays. He makes a broken play happen. Gets a deflection, some sort of steal, a rebound that he shouldn’t have crashed on. He crashed it and cashed it out. He keeps energy going and you need those guys. Like, what you said about Bam just being the heartbeat. I feel like Crowder is ... I don’t know what to call him. If Bam’s the heartbeat … he’s like the lung or some shit. 

Channing
Lolol.

Shump
But he’s just so important with every time you think like, Ugh. Like, They need to make a play. He’ll get a quick steal or a layup or one of them fake three drives and it turns into three points because he drew a little extra on the foul and made the layup because he’s actually pretty strong. You just need those plays. Without him, you need Duncan.

Channing
Duncan Robinson?

Shump
Yep, Robinson. Without Jae Crowder giving you those energy things, it puts a lot of pressure on him for what Miami does. I like how Crowder comes in and stretches the floor. If somebody makes a mistake, he makes you pay. He made me pay when I was in Brooklyn. I cheated on a couple of defensive schemes, he made me pay. I respect it. 

Kyle Kuzma

Channing
O.K. Dwight Howard.

Shump
Uhhhhhh, before Kuz? I’m tweakin’.

Channing
WAY before Kuz. Way before Kuz. Way before Kuz.

Shump
Now, let’s calm down. I know we’re not going in order, but let’s chill.

Channing
I feel like for the Lakers, the boards are going to matter though. So, that’s the case for Dwight. The boards, the rebounds are going to matter more than anything that Kuz is doing on the floor, in my opinion.

Shump
Jeeeeeez, straight up? That’s crazy. He’s like one of Bron’s only firecrackers, though. If Bron can’t score then—

Channing
This is a bad matchup for him.

Shump
Where??! What’s a bad matchup for Kuz?

Channing
Dude.

Shump
You know how Miami plays. They’re about to do a lot of rotating and moving. Kyle Kuzma’s going to get left in the corner a LOT. And you better hope he’s off. Just remember, that’s going to be a 6' 10", light-skinned dude standing there by himself.

Channing
LMAO. I don’t think he’s going to be in the corner unless they double team AD.

Shump
Bro, Miami plays great defense. To do that, you’re playing with five people. To do that, you gon’ be running people up the line. You are not running a 6' 10" man off the line. Same with me running YOU off the line. You don’t care if somebody’s running you down, you’re going to shoot it anyway. It’s too high. Ain’t nobody going to block that coming out the lane. Watch what I tell you bro. I’m telling you.

Dwight Howard (Kuzma Cont’d)

Channing
I don’t know. I think Dwight’s gonna bring energy.

Shump
I think it’s easy to take Dwight Howard out of the game. 

Channing
...

Shump
Lol. Me personally. 

Channing
Whaaaa??

Shump
I think that if you fight for everything and keep that man off the board, I don’t see what happens. I mean, he can screen for Bron. But it’s like, if we make Dwight Howard score 50, you think he gon’ score 50? We’re talking about most important to THIS series. I think Kyle Kuzma can go for 40. That’s what I’m saying.

Channing
WHAT??!!

Shump
Yeees, bro.

Channing
I don’t think so. Maaaybe 20. One game. But 40?

Shump
All I’m saying is, the Miami Heat, if they had to just guard Kyle Kuzma then yeah, it’s for real. BUT, if they gotta guard Bron and AD, and THEN Kyle Kuzma? That’s hard to do. Y’all can play that 1-3-1 all you want to, and that 6' 10" light-skin gon’ shoot right over somebody, bro. And if it start bussin’, I’m telling you. Somebody gon’ have to do something about it.

Channing
It ain’t happened yet. I’ll say this: They played three of the worst defenses in the NBA, and he couldn’t get shots up.

Alex Caruso, Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (and do the Lakers have shooters?)

Shump
Caruso gets under your skin. He gon’ play energy. He gon’ play passing lanes. He can switch on to more people. That’s the one thing with Kuz — he can’t move his feet like you want him to. But if y’all play zone….

Channing
O.K.

Shump
If y’all need to get rid of the zone, gimme that mans, yo.

Channing
But you’ve got other guys on the floor you can go to first. Rondo, Danny Green.

Shump
Gimme Danny Green, too! Come fly with me. All y’all come fly with me. Just shoot it up. Shoot up the zone. Get this zone away from me. Get it out of my face.

Channing
Do you know that the Lakers are like one of the bottom two worst teams in the NBA at shooting threes?

Shump
Do I know that the Lakers are…? Yes! I get it, bro. I get it. But—

Channing
KCP and Danny Green will have a bigger impact.

Shump
Channing, when we won a championship we was the most dysfunctional team I had ever been on. The craziest personalities ever. There’s no way it would have made sense. But it made a lot of sense when we was in the locker room, right?

Channing
Yes.

Shump
You think Bron tweakin’? I really don’t think so. It’s times that Bron pisses me off, but he not tweakin’. He know exactly what he got in his locker room. 

Channing
Yeah! Of course. I’m not disagreeing with that.

Shump
And if y’all really want to talk about important, we gon’ talk about J.R. Smith. Because if J.R. Smith get in there and get some confidence because he in there long enough, it’s going to be trou-ble, trouble. They got too many people that can play basketball over there, bro. They can play basketball. You know what I’m saying?

Channing
I think we’re saying the same thing.

Shump
Nah, nah, nah. But you just told me that they gon’ play a zone, and Kuzma not gon’ be able to get it off.

Channing
No, no, no, no. I’m not saying that at all. It’s just that we’re talking about impact. I think Caruso, Dwight Howard and Danny Green are gonna have a bigger IMPACT. Like, let’s talk about Danny. They’re going to need to shoot threes, and Danny Green can make threes.

Shump
I think Caruso might be needed a little more to deal with Miami than Danny.

Channing
But Danny is a bigger defender, a bigger guard.

Shump
Danny is bigger, I just ... Danny doesn’t do well with people that really got a handle. You know what I’m saying?

Channing
But Danny is great at chasing screens. So he’s gonna be chasing Duncan Robinson and all those young boys all over the place. No one else really has chasing ability like that. 

Shump
You right. You right. I apologize, Danny Green.

Erik Spoelstra

Channing
I don’t know, maybe you won’t agree with me on this, but I think we gotta give Erik Spoelstra the 15 spot. 

Shump
I love Erik Spoelstra.

Channing
He’s one of the most important people in the Finals this year. And I’ll tell you why. If you look at their starting lineup, there’s no real one-on-one matchup that you would say is an advantage for Miami. Not until somebody on the Lakers comes off the bench, like a Kuzma or a Caruso — who’s still a solid defender. I think Erik Spoelstra’s got to mix up when he plays zones, right? How much he shows Bron the zone, because the more Bron sees it, the more he’s just calculating. 

Shump
Yep. 

Channing
Spoelstra’s also got to mix up how much he double-teams AD. And another thing that I think is a problem is, if the Lakers go big, right? So, if they play JaVale McGee or Dwight in that first unit, and they go in a zone — your tendency is that you go in a zone because you can’t match up. But you also get out-rebounded a lot of times. So, you’re gonna give up all those offensive rebounds to a team that doesn’t shoot threes very well because you want them to shoot threes? It kind of defeats that purpose. So, they’re gonna have to figure out ways to keep the ball out of Bron and Rondo and AD’s hands, and make other guys make plays. That’s why I think Spoelstra’s gonna be huge for them, because he’s got to mix up almost every. Single. Coverage.

Shump
Spoelstra for sure. He deserve a jersey for what he gon’ have to do. Because, like you said — and I can agree with — at the end of games, Jimmy has willed his way to doing a lot of impressive stuff, but it’s gonna be tough for him to create a shot with somebody in front of him with length who’s been here before. He got to beat up on a Boston team that really hasn’t seen anything like him. But as you can already see from Game 1, it’s gonna be real poised on the other side when you see them gold jerseys. And that’s gonna be a huge challenge that Spoelstra can help him navigate.

[tpt_apostrophe_divider]

Channing
So, who’s gonna win it all?

Shump
I got the Lakers in five.

Channing
Yeah, Lakers in five. Listen. Miami is a great team. They’re here, but I just … I’m thinking in my mind ... listen, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Maybe I don’t know the game. But I’m taking the two best players on the court for a team all day. Right? Because there’s no pressure. There’s pressure on other guys who make what, five out of 10 shots, four out of 10? But Bron and AD? Bron and AD are like, Listen, we can go get 30 whenever we want.

Shump
Exactly. And even though I say Bron and AD are the most important reasons, I say Lakers in five because they have Rajon Rondo and Bron, and those guys are champions. It’s just hard to beat champions. 

Channing
And Danny Green is a champion.

Shump
Yup. Danny Green, champion. It’s just hard to deal with that. There’s just no way it’s not an uphill thing for Miami. But like I said, what’s scary about Miami, in this style of arena ... Tyler Herro doesn’t care. He don’t care there are champions over there. And I looove that. Like I love it with Bam. Bam does not care that you’re a champion. He doesn’t care. And I love it. Jimmy Butler? Doesn’t care. And now it’s rubbed off on Duncan. He don’t care. He’s not nervous. He’s not gun-shy. I love that about them. Kendrick Nunn, Jae Crowder. These people don’t care. When I think of that — the fearlessness — it does make it a roll-of-the-dice type of thing.

Channing
RIGHT. Exactly. That’s what’s going to keep it interesting from game to game this series. You just never know. This isn’t a team that you can count out.

Shump
Definitely. We can shake hands on that.

FEATURED STORIES