The last time the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat tangled in the title round, the storylines could have written themselves before the series started.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker did the heaviest lifting for San Antonio, but the Spurs found their best success in the lopsided numbers game. Five different players averaged at least 11 points (compared to only three for Miami), as Danny Green, once a waiver-wire addition, emerged as an all too appropriate NBA Finals MVP candidate behind a record-breaking perimeter performance.
Eventually, though, Miami's stars shined brighter than San Antonio's could.
The Heat got an incredibly clutch triple from an incredibly clutch shooter in Ray Allen. LeBron James recovered from a rocky shooting start and erupted for 37 points, including five threes, in the series clincher. Mario Chalmers, always good for one huge outing, supplied two (39 total points in Games 2 and 6).
Plenty has changed over the past 12 months, but the potential series-changing matchups seem just as obvious this time around.
Some of them are still the same. The Heat need to control Parker—the head of the Spurs' snake—and his dribble penetration game. The Spurs must find a way to limit James' high-powered offense while exploiting their size advantage at the opposite end.
It's far easier said than done, but both clubs know that already. A lot of what makes each team great are the same things that secured the other's championship ticket.
"Both teams are playing with incredible urgency and desperation," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. "Two teams that play fairly similarly in terms of what kind of actions create ball movement, the spacing, the three-point shooting and the attackers who can get in the paint."
If the systems were easy to stop, the NBA wouldn't have its first Finals rematch since before the turn of the century.
From the coaches deploying the attacks to the players responsible for executing them, nothing about this series will be easy to handle.
Except for tracing the key storylines to this series, all of which can be captured in the matchups that follow.