Although the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs are entering the NBA finals on two distinctly separate paths, they match up exceptionally well and are headed for a thrilling classic.
After absolutely steamrolling its way to one of the most dominant regular seasons of all time, a repeat championship was supposed to be simple for Erik Spoelstra's squad.
Everything was going according to plan after easy series wins over the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls, but the Indiana Pacers proved to be a complete push-under—the opposite of a pushover, if you will.
Frank Vogel's club shoved Miami to the limit, controlling the inside with ease and fighting the Heat to seven games before LeBron James finished off the instant-classic series with a transcendent Game 7 performance.
But the Pacers highlighted Miami's flaws—and those are flaws San Antonio is capable of exploiting.
Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter aren't David West and Roy Hibbert, but they are good enough offensively to hurt the Heat inside where they lack a formidable presence.
Moreover, point guard Tony Parker is playing unbelievable basketball right now, Kawhi Leonard has the length and athleticism to serve as a compelling matchup defensively against James, and the Spurs have a deep bench, something that Indiana sorely lacked.
In the playoffs, the Spurs rank second in offensive rating and first in defensive rating; the Heat rank first and fourth. The Spurs are second in effective field-goal percentage; the Heat first. Each team has a number of superstars and a slew of role players capable of turning the outcome of a game.
How many games will this series last?
This is a grown-man finals matchup—one that you can't be disappointed with if you were simply hoping for good basketball and a rightful battle of the two elite teams for the NBA's greatest prize.
It will go seven games, and from there all bets are off.
But in what will be the most colossal game of the season, it's impossible to bet against the most scintillating, preeminent player in the league.
Heat in seven games is my official prediction, but I will care very little if I'm wrong (a massive possibility) should the series live up to the great expectations.
Here's a look at how 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.