"It's unbelievable to regain that focus after that devastating loss that we had last year," Duncan told TNT's David Aldridge after the Spurs' series-clinching win over the Thunder, via ESPN.com. "But we're back here. We're excited about it. We've got four more to win. We'll do it this time."
Duncan later added that San Antonio was "happy" that the Heat are the team it is facing for all the marbles, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports.
Of course, Duncan made those statements in his typical stoic, non-confrontational demeanor without a hint of belligerence. But make no mistake about it: Beneath the big man's cordial interior is a cold-blooded assassin whose one and only focus is destroying his opponent.
Regardless, this was uncharacteristic of Duncan, someone who is rarely expressive and seldom provides a juicy quote. For Timmy, that stuff was about as juicy as it gets.
As this outstanding 2012 Spurs commercial featuring Mobb Deep's famous "Shook Ones Pt. II" instrumental tells us, talking a big game is not San Antonio's modus operandi, so the fact that Duncan strayed away from that creed, if ever so slightly, speaks volumes about the kind of disdain that he and his teammates have for Miami.
"They don't like us," said LeBron, via Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick. "I can sense that from Tim's comments the past couple days."
And you know what, who could blame them?
It's not that they necessarily dislike the Heat players, per se, it's that they despise the symbolic meaning of the Miami logo.
The Spurs were 28 seconds away from capturing their fifth championship last June only to have the Game 6 victory snatched right from underneath their noses. Throw in a close loss in Game 7 that featured Duncan missing a very makeable shot in the lane late in the contest and you can understand why San Antonio feels the way it does.
Now, the Spurs have an opportunity to right their wrongs from a year ago, and opportunities like this don't come around very often. After all, this is the first time Duncan has ever made back-to-back Finals appearances, and it's only the first time since 1998 that the Finals feature a rematch.
Plus, let's not forget what we heard from George Karl back in February on SportsCenter regarding Duncan: "...this is going to be his last year...," via Paul Garcia of Project Spurs.
San Antonio not only has redemption on its mind, but this unit also surely realizes that this may truly be its final chance to hang another banner.
Talk about a great storyline.