It almost seems like destiny.
The 2013 NBA Finals was one of the most memorable series in the history of the sport, as LeBron James and the Miami Heat knocked off Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs in a back-and-forth seven-game struggle. Depending on your rooting interest, it was either heartbreaking or absolutely thrilling.
The Spurs found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the final seconds of Game 6, as Ray Allen hit a miracle three-pointer to force overtime. It is a testament to San Antonio’s ability and mental fortitude that it didn’t let the haunting memories of that Finals derail its 2013-14 season.
If the Spurs can find a way to win four of the next seven contests with home-court advantage this time around, they can erase any lingering demons from last year against that very same opponent.
Duncan thinks they can, via Sports Illustrated: “We have four more [games] to win. We’ll do it this time.”
Here is a look at the schedule and broadcast information for the entire 2014 NBA Finals:
|1||San Antonio||Thursday, June 5||9 p.m.||ABC|
|2||San Antonio||Sunday, June 8||8 p.m.||ABC|
|3||Miami||Tuesday, June 10||9 p.m.||ABC|
|4||Miami||Thursday, June 12||9 p.m.||ABC|
|5 *||San Antonio||Sunday, June 15||8 p.m.||ABC|
|6 *||Miami||Tuesday, June 17||9 p.m.||ABC|
|7 *||San Antonio||Friday, June 20||9 p.m.||ABC|
SI.com (*if necessary)
This clash between the Heat and the Spurs will only be the fifth Finals rematch since the NBA and ABA merged in 1976. Most recently, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls knocked off the Utah Jazz for the second year in a row in 1998.
Jordan may be the greatest player of all time, but Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press and Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated passed along a fascinating statistic concerning two of the best players ever who will face off in these Finals:
Awesome stat. RT @ByTimReynolds: Most wins by an NBA player, last 10 years: 1) Tim Duncan, 622. 2) LeBron James, 621.— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) June 1, 2014
San Antonio and Miami split their two regular-season matchups, but you couldn’t find two squads that regular-season games are less meaningful for in terms of projecting ahead to the postseason. Both of these squads are built for the postseason and didn’t mind resting key contributors if necessary if it meant sacrificing a game here and there in December and January.
The thought here is that the Spurs find a way to win the title this time around, but that is based off the assumption that Tony Parker is good to go.
He sat out the second half of Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals with an ankle injury, but the Spurs may need him to be near 100 percent if they hope to knock off the defending champs. He was absolutely brilliant at times in last year’s Finals when he darted in and out of Miami’s defense, dropped floaters in the lane, found open teammates behind the three-point line and hit that memorable game-winner in the final second in Game 1.
However, the fact that the Spurs won the final game of the Western Conference Finals in Oklahoma City without their star point guard is a testament to their tremendous depth. Not a single player averaged 30 minutes a game during the regular season, and the argument can be made that up to 11 players could play a significant role in the Finals.
The Heat are much more star dependent.
While nobody can really stop LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard is built to at least slow him down. Leonard brings solid lateral quickness and athleticism to the table and can challenge perimeter shots with his length. What’s more, he is strong enough to put up some resistance when James attacks the rim.
How many games does the Finals go this time?
Leonard’s defense, along with San Antonio’s superior depth, will be absolutely critical in San Antonio’s march to victory.
This figures to be a grueling back-and-forth series, so health will play a factor. Outside of the aforementioned Parker and his ankle ailment, questions always surround the knees of Dwyane Wade. Allen and Chris Andersen were also banged up during the Eastern Conference Finals at times.
Regardless of who actually wins the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the fact that we get to run back last year’s Finals should be a thrill to basketball fans everywhere.
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