The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, as far as the conference finals go, couldn't have taken two more different paths to the NBA Finals.
In a series many expected to go the distance, Gregg Popovich's squad steamrolled the Memphis Grizzlies, not even opting for the gentleman's sweep. It took two overtime battles, but Tony Parker and the Spurs looked transcendent in their four Western Conference finals victories.
Miami, on the other hand, had to battle into the finals.
After winning 37 of their last 39 games and 66 overall in the regular season, the Heat seemed destined for an easy run to their second Larry O' Brien Trophy in a row.
But after easily defeating the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pacers proved to be a truly formidable opponent, pushing the Heat to seven games in an instant-classic, back-and-forth series that had a little bit of everything—except, you know, a compelling Game 7.
Much like last season, LeBron James was able to propel his team to a dominant rubber-match victory, and the finals are now set.
Let's take a look at where you can catch all the action.
2013 NBA Finals Schedule
Note: Schedule via ESPN.com. * denotes if necessary
|Game||Date||Away Team||Home Team||TV Network||Time (ET)|
|1||Thursday, June 6||San Antonio Spurs||Miami Heat||ABC||9:00 p.m.|
|2||Sunday, June 9||San Antonio Spurs||Miami Heat||ABC||8:00 p.m.|
|3||Tuesday, June 11||Miami Heat||San Antonio Spurs||ABC||9:00 p.m.|
|4||Thursday, June 13||Miami Heat||San Antonio Spurs||ABC||9:00 p.m.|
|5*||Sunday, June 16||Miami Heat||San Antonio Spurs||ABC||8:00 p.m.|
|6*||Tuesday, June 18||San Antonio Spurs||Miami Heat||ABC||9:00 p.m.|
|7*||Thursday, June 20||San Antonio Spurs||Miami Heat||ABC||9:00 p.m.|
While the Heat looked far more susceptible in the conference finals, it's important to note they were able to advance not only against a team supremely capable of taking advantage of their biggest weakness inside, but with two of their biggest stars—Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh—playing poorly.
Miami is still the better team.
Still, don't count out San Antonio. The Spurs will have the second-best player on the court in Tony Parker, have a long, athletic defender in Kawhi Leonard capable of at least bothering James, have looked spectacular this posteason on both sides of the ball and have a coach that is easy to trust in this type of situation.
This series is going the distance.
In the end, I'll go with the team with the best player, especially if Wade's Game 7 woke him up out of his little funk.
Prediction: Heat in 7
If anything was made clear in Miami's thrilling series win over the Pacers, it's that this team will go as far as James takes them.
Should the Heat outlast San Antonio, LeBron will undoubtedly be taking home his second straight finals MVP.