We have a rematch of last years thrilling NBA Championship Finals, as the Miami Heat look to defend their title against the San Antonio Spurs. Last year the series went seven games and in game six it was the Spurs who had a a five point lead with 28 seconds to go and a chance to win the title. Ray Allen almost single handed, tied the game with key baskets that sent the game into over time where the Heat would win 103-100, forcing a game seven.
We all recall that it was all Heat led by James with 38 points as Miami held on to win 95-88 and claim their second title in as many years. It was an epic seven games that had both the teams and fans nationwide wanting more. Well, we are here again, same two teams and everyone wants to see another exciting series.
When the two squares off in game one in San Antonio at 9 pm Thursday night on ABC, it will be the Spurs with the most of the nation behind them, while the Heat will have a strong fan base that goes well beyond the Sunshine State and also in the state of Nevada.
Make no mistake about it, nationally the Spurs are the favorite of the fans over the star studded, ego driven Heat led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Meanwhile, those who bet on the games for a living like the Heat to with their third title in four straight appearances in the NBA Finals.
The Heat joins the Celtics, who by the way have done it twice, of course. There were the Bill Russell’s Celtics, which ran through the old Eastern Division of the NBA for 10 consecutive years (1957-1966). Then there were Larry Bird’s Celtics, which reached the Finals from 1984-87. That was arguably the NBA’s Golden Age, with Bird’s run overlapping those sparkling years by Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers.
Johnson’s Lakers ushered in the 1980s, and Pat Riley joined during the 1981-82 regular season. With the Showtime Lakers in full bloom, Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar reached the Finals in four consecutive years from 1982-85.
Now the Heat would very much like to find themselves in the conversation of the great teams of the NBA. No doubt that James and Dwyane Wade want to join the biggest names of the sport’s elite with another title. Overall, this is the fifth trip to the Finals for the Heat’s cornerstone superstars, who joined forces, along with Chris Bosh, in that unforgettable summer of 2010. This is also the fifth trip to the Finals for Heat mainstay Udonis Haslem and the fourth trip for future Hall of Famer Ray Allen.
The funny thing about success is that fans outside the fan base of the defending champions like to see the underdogs pull off the upset win. The San Antonio Spurs will be the guys wearing the white hats in this series.
Tim Duncan is the anti LeBron, a quite superstar who has led San Antonio to four NBA Championships in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007 as well as six NBA Western Conference Championships in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2013-2014.The Spurs are the “Blue Collar,” team that just seems each year to contend for a NBA title while the Lakers, Thunder and other Western Conference teams grab the headlines.
Certain Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich has spent 20 years as the head coach in San Antonio, the longest tenured bench boss in the NBA. He also is the only coach in the NBA with 17 consecutive trips to the NBA Playoffs.
They are easy to root for and they will have the national backing they hope that this time the result will be different. Meanwhile, Heat fans want that chance to be in the conversation with the super teams of the Celtics and the Lakers.
No matter who you support let’s just hope that is as good as last year’s series and that it once again goes seven games.