For the second straight year, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs will clash for the NBA championship.
And while LeBron James and Tim Duncan have already established remarkable legacies, each will be gunning for not only another ring this June but redemption, as pointed out by ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin:
It all starts with Game 1 Thursday from San Antonio, where the Spurs are an impressive 9-1 this postseason.
But it's hard to argue the edge doesn't go to Miami in this series. After all, the back-to-back defending champions are chasing history and left San Antonio demoralized last year after coming from behind to snare the coveted Larry O'Brien trophy from the jaws of defeat.
With the highly anticipated rematch set to begin, below you'll find complete television coverage as well as game-by-game predictions for the entire 2014 NBA Finals.
|2014 NBA Finals TV Schedule|
|Date||Matchup||Start Time (ET)||Channel|
|Thu, June 5||Game 1: Heat at Spurs||9 p.m.||ABC|
|Sun, June 8||Game 2: Heat at Spurs||8 p.m.||ABC|
|Tue, June 10||Game 3: Spurs at Heat||9 p.m.||ABC|
|Thu, June 12||Game 4: Spurs at Heat||9 p.m.||ABC|
|Sun, June 15||Game 5: Heat at Spurs*||8 p.m.||ABC|
|Tue, June 17||Game 6: Spurs at Heat*||9 p.m.||ABC|
|Fri, June 20||Game 7: Heat at Spurs*||9 p.m.||ABC|
|*if necessary. Source: ESPN|
NBA fans have to be excited about a rematch of 2013's thrilling seven-game series. In addition to the brilliant matchup, there'll be plenty of star power on display.
What's more, the revenge factor is very much alive, as noted by Duncan following San Antonio's series-clinching win in the Western Conference finals, per ESPN.com:
It's unbelievable to regain that focus after that devastating loss that we had last year. But we're back here. We're excited about it. We've got four more to win. We'll do it this time. We're happy it's the Heat again. We've got that bad taste in our mouths still.
Although Duncan appears extremely confident that he and his teammates will claim what's rightfully theirs, the two-time defending champions have looked every bit as impressive on their way back to the NBA Finals.
So how will it all play out?
Here goes nothing.
|2014 NBA Finals Game-by-Game Predictions|
|Game 1||Spurs 101, Heat 92||Spurs lead 1-0|
|Game 2||Heat 95, Spurs 89||Series tied 1-1|
|Game 3||Heat 97, Spurs 91 OT||Heat lead 2-1|
|Game 4||Heat 88, Spurs 85||Heat lead 3-1|
|Game 5||Spurs 107, Heat 95||Heat lead 3-2|
|Game 6||Heat 94, Spurs 87||Heat win 4-2|
No one prepares like Gregg Popovich, but then again, you could argue that few NBA coaches work as hard behind the scenes as Erik Spoelstra. Nonetheless, you can expect both teams to be well prepared ahead of Game 1.
With both teams also well rested, the slight edge goes to the Spurs, whose role players will feed off the crowd and likely sink a Heat team that routinely plays its best basketball when its back is against the wall. Remember, Danny Green exploded for a game-high 27 points on 7-of-9 three-point shooting to turn the tide at home in Game 3 of last year's NBA Finals.
But just as they did in their previous series against the Indiana Pacers, the Heat's Big Three will rise up to even the series in Game 2, turning up the defensive pressure and finding ways to score in transition.
Tony Parker's sore ankle is another storyline to keep an eye on. The veteran point guard missed the second half of San Antonio's Game 6 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and may not be 100 percent this June.
With the series tied and momentum in Miami's corner, watch for the Heat to continue their strong play at home when the series shifts to South Beach for Games 3 and 4. Miami is a sizzling 8-0 at AmericanAirlines Arena in these playoffs and hasn't lost a playoff game at home since Game 1 of last year's NBA Finals.
Just as they did against Indiana, look for the Heat to seize control of these NBA Finals on their home floor, where role players like Rashard Lewis and Chris "Birdman" Andersen will feed off the crowd and have a greater impact.
Keep in mind that Andersen is coming off a nine-point, 10-rebound performance in 13 minutes against the Pacers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
With a 3-1 series lead, Miami will have three chances to wrap up a third consecutive title.
But Game 5 is where the new NBA Finals format will come into play. Instead of having an opportunity to potentially close out the series at home, the Heat will head back to Texas, where the Spurs are sure to stave off elimination.
However, Game 6 is where the 2013-14 season will conclude. Remember, Miami is 10-0 in potential series-clinching home games during the Big Three era. With a 3-2 advantage headed back to the scene of San Antonio's unforgettable meltdown in 2013, expect the Heat to eliminate the valiant Spurs, securing their third straight NBA championship in the process.
After becoming just the third franchise in NBA history to reach four straight NBA Finals, it's only appropriate that Miami will become the fourth to successfully execute the three-peat.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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