Hardly known for its predictability, history is looking to repeat itself during the 2014 NBA playoffs.
A 2013 Finals rematch between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs looks like it's in the cards. If not, a 2012 Finals rematch between the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder could take center stage.
While the Indiana Pacers can shake things up by dethroning the Heat, they'll have to prove their impressive Game 1 showing is the real deal, that they're not the team that limped to the finish line before nearly falling to the sub-.500 Atlanta Hawks during the opening round.
Two games are in the books for both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals. Here's a look at what has unfolded and what lies ahead.
|East (Game No.)||Matchup||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|1||Pacers 107, Heat 96||Sun., May 18|
|2||Heat 87, Pacers 83||Tue., May 20|
|3||Indiana at Miami||Sat, May 24||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|4||Indiana at Miami||Mon, May 26||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|5||Miami at Indiana||Wed, May 28||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|6 (If necessary)||Indiana at Miami||Fri, May 30||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|7 (If necessary)||Miami at Indiana||Sun, June 1||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|West (Game No.)||Matchup||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|1||Spurs 122, Thunder 105||Mon., May 19|
|2||Spurs 112, Thunder 77||Wed. May 21|
|3||San Antonio at Oklahoma City||Sun, May 25||8:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4||San Antonio at Oklahoma City||Tue, May 27||9 p.m.||TNT|
|5 (If necessary)||Oklahoma City at San Antonio||Thur, May 29||9 p.m.||TNT|
|6 (If necessary)||San Antonio at Oklahoma City||Sat, May 31||8:30 p.m.||TNT|
|7 (If necessary)||Oklahoma City at San Antonio||Mon, June 2||9 p.m.||TNT|
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers (Series Tied 1-1)
Beating the Heat at full strength presents enough of a challenge for the Pacers. Now, a team dependent to a fault on its starting lineup could play Game 3 without its best player.
During Game 2, Dwyane Wade's knee landed on the back of Paul George's head while both stars chased after a loose ball. While George stayed in the game, he later revealed that he was not in proper condition to keep playing.
“I blacked out as soon as it happened and then … however much time was remaining, I was just blurry,” George said, per Sports Illustrated's Ben Golliver.
He has been diagnosed with a concussion, meaning he must be deemed symptom-free by an independent doctor in order to be cleared for Game 3 on Saturday night.
Without George, the Pacers don't stand much of a chance. According to 82games.com, the Pacers held a plus-6.7 point differential per 100 possessions with George on the court. Without him, the rate shrinks to plus-0.4, with the club struggling to hold their own offensively.
The bench has mustered a mere 22 points through the first two games. Evan Turner, who was acquired before the trade deadline to generate some scoring off the bench, has averaged 3.5 points per game this postseason and hasn't seen the court against Miami.
Meanwhile, the Heat don't lose often at American Airlines Arena. They were 32-9 at home this season and hold a 26-5 record during the last three postseasons. If they can't steal a game on the road, the Pacers will dig themselves a huge hole after splitting the first two slates.
This series is far from over, and Indiana's size creates a mismatch for Miami's smaller squad. But when in doubt, picking the team with LeBron James often works out.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs (Spurs Lead 2-0)
The Spurs seem to have a solid handle on this whole basketball thing.
They dismantled the Thunder during the opening two home games, winning by a combined 52 points to inch halfway toward their sixth NBA Finals appearance under Gregg Popovich's tutelage.
While Danny Green drained seven three-pointers on Wednesday night, the Thunder went 2-of-20 from long range. San Antonio's tormenting, 35-point victory not only awarded them a 2-0 lead, but gave its big three a huge postseason landmark.
In typical Spurs fashion, Tony Parker didn't express much excitement after his squad put on a basketball clinic.
"We just did our job," Parker told the Associated Press, via ESPN.com. "We won our first two games at home and I'm sure they're going to go back and say we have to do our job and win two games at home."
Don't cross out the Thunder just yet. Two years ago, the Spurs held a 2-0 lead in the same Conference Finals matchup after winning their first 10 playoff bouts. They looked like an unstoppable basketball juggernaut capable of doing no wrong.
Then, Oklahoma City stopped them and won the next four games to advance.
On the other hand, the Thunder had James Harden and a healthy Serge Ibaka during that comeback. And as Grantland's Zach Lowe noted on Twitter, the nature of the first two games was severely contrasting.
I get why everyone wants to compare the 2012 WCF to this Spurs-Thunder series, but the massive differences are obvious, right?— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 22, 2014
Aside from players, G1 and G2 of that series in SA were close. Spurs needed rally to win G1 by 3, G2 was w/in 7 with about 5:00 to go— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) May 22, 2014
So the Spurs are finally returning to the Finals, where Tim Duncan and Co. will receive their fourth "last chance" to garner their first championship since 2007. Even if they fall short, true basketball fans should stop and appreciate the beauty of San Antonio basketball at its best.