While it takes at least four games to win the NBA Finals, you can tell a lot about the upcoming series in the first game.
Winning the first contest will not clinch the series for either the Miami Heat or San Antonio Spurs, but it will provide a lot of momentum going forward. Additionally, it will give some insight into how these two squads match up against each other after the stars missed out on the regular-season battles.
A few key factors will be the difference in this series, and Game 1 will showcase which side has the advantage. Here are the things to watch in the opening contest on Thursday night.
Can the Heat Battle on the Glass?
Miami had the worst rebounding mark in the NBA during the regular season, and that has continued throughout much of the postseason.
In the conference finals, the Indiana Pacers utilized their size advantage inside to dominate on the boards for much of the series. This provided secondary scoring opportunities, which helped the squad win three games against the defending champs.
Of course, Game 7 was a different story. The Heat won the rebounding battle by seven and ended up winning the game by 23 points.
San Antonio does not have a lot of size in the frontcourt, but the players know how to rebound. Tim Duncan is as solid as they come inside, and Tiago Splitter will likely be utilized a bunch in this series.
If Miami can at least keep this battle close, however, it will give the squad a huge advantage.
How Will the Spurs Shoot from Outside?
The Memphis Grizzlies are a very good defensive team, but had no chance to defend San Antonio when the Spurs were hitting all their shots from the outside.
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Matt Bonner, Kawhi Leonard and others were lights out from behind the arc. The team total 14 threes on 29 shots in a rout to start the series.
While the Spurs' shooting progressively got worse in the next three games, the threat of the three opened things up for the rest of the offense. Duncan was able to post up without being double-teamed, and Tony Parker had the freedom to drive to the basket.
Miami has the athleticism to cover a lot of ground defensively, but it will not matter if the Spurs can hit shots like they are capable of doing. The first game will set the tone for the rest of the series in this regard.
Will LeBron James Get Any Help?
At this point, it is clear that LeBron James is capable of doing plenty by himself. However, it is much easier to win games with a little bit of help.
Bosh has not reached double figures in four games in a row and is becoming a smaller part of the offense each game.
Wade came through with a huge performance in Game 7 against the Pacers, but he has been quite inconsistent while dealing with his knee injury this postseason.
If these two stars come through in the finals, Miami is the favorite to win it all. Without their help, however, Miami will have a hard time getting the best of the Spurs.
Rob Goldberg is a member of Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team. Follow him on Twitter for the latest updates.