After a wild ride through the postseason, only two teams remain standing. It's only fitting the San Antonio Spurs take on the Miami Heat in a grudge match from last year's NBA Finals.
According to ESPN Stats and Info, it's been quite some time since this phenomenon has happened:
Spurs + Heat to meet in NBA Finals for 2nd straight season, 1st NBA Finals rematch since Bulls vs Jazz in 1997 and 1998— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 1, 2014
Both teams will get some much-needed rest before the Finals kick off on Thursday night, as each emerged victorious in six games during their respective conference finals bouts.
With so much at stake heading into Game 1 of the season's final series, it will be the subtle nuances of momentum and confidence playing a huge part for each team in victory or defeat.
As Game 1 approaches, let's take a look at the current odds and decide which team has a better chance to start the series with a win.
Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs
Series: Tied 0-0
When: Thursday, June 5
Where: AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas
Time: 9 p.m. ET
Odds: San Antonio -3.5 (via OddsShark.com)
The Spurs saw some great production from their starters and off the bench in the team's Game 6 overtime thriller against the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, San Antonio was forced to be without Tony Parker in the game's second half.
Parker is nursing an ankle injury, but according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, he is expected to play on Thursday against the Heat:
The San Antonio Spurs expect to have Tony Parker in the lineup Thursday when they host the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, according to sources close to the situation.
The San Antonio Express-News quoted a source Sunday saying that Parker "absolutely" will be ready to play in Game 1 despite an ankle injury that plagued him for much of the Western Conference finals. Yahoo! Sports also had reported that Parker would be ready to play.
Although Parker is slated to play, his ankle has been a hindrance since he aggravated it in Game 4 at Oklahoma City. His progress will certainly have to be monitored, as this lingering issue could effect his productivity.
Otherwise, the Spurs are looking very solid. Tim Duncan continues to thrive in the paint, and the emergence of Kawhi Leonard won't only help on the offensive end, but also on defense against LeBron James.
Starting the series at home is huge for a Spurs team holding a 32-9 record in San Antonio this season.
According to a tweet from Sports Illustrated, Duncan remains confident entering the series:
Spurs’ Tim Duncan on NBA Finals vs. Heat: ‘We’ll do it this time’ http://t.co/GCWpdkezqP— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 1, 2014
After the Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers in the East's Game 6, they became just the third team in NBA history to reach the Finals in four consecutive seasons.
James has been extremely efficient throughout the playoffs, and he's getting some decent production from his supporting cast—namely Chris Bosh.
Bosh struggled early in the series against the Pacers, but really found his groove in Game 4.
His 25-point performance included going seven-of-12 from the field while connecting on three-of-five attempts from downtown. He followed that up with a 20-point showing in Game 5 and dropped another 25 while shooting 10-of-14 from the field in Game 6.
Bosh enters the Finals with a great deal of momentum and a hot hand.
As for Dwyane Wade, his health hasn't really been an issue through the playoffs. His mid-range jumper looks as good as ever; however, endurance going forward could certainly become a factor.
NBA on ESPN tweeted a message from James after defeating the Pacers:
After they advanced to their fourth straight NBA Finals, LeBron James said the Heat are not satisfied. http://t.co/20P37DmIVM— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 31, 2014
These teams match up extremely well against each other. Expect a back-and-forth series filled with a high level of intensity and drama.
As for Game 1, it's difficult to bet against a team playing in front of an amped up home crowd. The Spurs have been fantastic at AT&T Center this season, and the Heat's away record of 22-19 doesn't appear favorable to improve.
Spurs 96, Heat 92