The Miami Heat are looking for a three-peat, as they make their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance on Thursday night in San Antonio when they face the Spurs in a rematch from 2013.
Miami was never in much danger of not reaching the finals. They swept the Charlotte Bobcats in the first round and needed just five games to take care of the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They didn’t have home-court advantage in the Eastern Conference Finals, and fell in Game One to the Indiana Pacers. Following the loss, they won four out of five games, concluding with a 117-92 victory in the clincher.
San Antonio barely made it out of the opening round, needing seven games to beat the No.8 seed Dallas Mavericks. They cruised in the second round, beating the Portland Trail Blazers in five games and taking each victory by at least 15 points. In the Western Conference Finals, they got past the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games.
Both sides are looking to make history. While Miami’s Big Three is looking to win its third straight title, Dwyane Wade is attempting to win the fourth championship of his career. For the Spurs, Tim Duncan and head coach Gregg Popovich have a chance to get their fifth rings.
In a chance of format from the 2-3-2, San Antonio will host the first two games, followed by two games in Miami. If necessary, Game Five will be in San Antonio, and Miami will host Game Six. The potential Game Seven will be played in San Antonio.
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The two teams only met twice in the regular season. The Heat won the first meeting on Jan. 26, winning by 12 points in Miami. The Spurs returned the favor at home, blowing out the defending champs 111-87.
Miami and San Antonio had very similar rosters when they met in the 2013 NBA Finals. The Spurs blew a last-second lead in Game Six with a chance to clinch the series. Two nights later, the Heat won the deciding seventh game by seven points.
LeBron James: It almost goes without saying that James is the most important player in the series. If he performs up to his standards, the Heat will be very difficult to beat. His numbers in last year’s finals were drastically different in Miami’s wins and losses. In four victories against the Spurs, James averaged 29.8 points on 49.5 percent field-goal shooting. In his team’s three defeats, the four-time MVP scored 19.3 points per game on 37.3 percent shooting.
Tony Parker: The health of the Spurs’ point guard might be the biggest factor in the series. Last year, a calf injury limited his effectiveness for much of the playoffs. Now, Parker is dealing with a sprained ankle. The injury forced him out of action in the final game of the Western Conference finals, and he told a French radio station that he isn’t 100 percent. He’ll suit up for Game One, though, and the Spurs need him to have a big series.
Game 1: Thursday, June 5 at San Antonio, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 2: Sunday, June 8 at San Antonio, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 3: Tuesday, June 10 at Miami, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 4: Thursday, June 12 at Miami, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 5: Sunday, June 15 at San Antonio, 8 p.m. ET, ABC*
Game 6: Tuesday, June 17 at Miami, 9 p.m. ET, ABC*
Game 7: Friday, June 20 at San Antonio, 9 p.m. ET, ABC*
Miami in six