Miami and San Antonio meet in the NBA Finals for the first time starting Thursday, but Heat superstar LeBron James has been here before, six years ago when his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept in four games by the Spurs.
Miami and San Antonio meet in the NBA Finals for the first time starting Thursday, but Heat superstar LeBron James has been here before, six years ago when his Cleveland Cavaliers were swept in four games by a Spurs team that won its fourth NBA title anchored by star center Tim Duncan.
Here are five questions about a Heat team looking to repeat in its third consecutive trip to the Finals and a Spurs team looking to get Duncan one more ring for his thumb:
Q Will the Spurs be rusty, or ready?
A They haven’t played in 10 days since sweeping Memphis in the Western Conference finals. The Heat beat Indiana in the East final’s Game 7 on Monday.
That’s three days, sports and mathematics fans.
“I’m ready to play now,” James told reporters Wednesday. “I would rather have the two days.”
While the Pacers and Heat slugged it out, the Spurs sat home, rested their old creaky bodies and observed.
“We learned a lot watching those games,” San Antonio guard Tony Parker said. “I can’t tell you what we got from that, but we learned a lot. Hopefully, it will help us.”
Q Did the Pacers provide the blueprint for beating the Heat?
A Yes and no.
Big Roy Hibbert demonstrated during the Eastern Conference finals what most everybody suspected all along: If you’re going to challenge Miami, you’ll do it with height, length and muscle.
Hibbert, and frontcourt mate David West, provided some of all three.
The Spurs have size, but neither Tim Duncan nor Tiago Splitter is Hibbert, a 7-2 shot-blocker whose presence tested the Heat.
The Spurs, like the Heat, will spread the floor more, with Parker’s ball handling creating space for three-point shooters Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal and Matt Bonner.
“It’s going to be a little different,” said Heat center Chris Bosh, who struggled to find his way against the Pacers. “It’s kind of like our practices playing each other.”
Q Has it really been six years?
A Yes, it has.
James was just 22 then when his Cavaliers met the Spurs in the 2007 Finals.
That was then, this is…
“That was like ancient history,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was basically a neophyte at the time, wondering how all this stuff worked and how it’s put together. We were very fortunate at that time to get him so early. At this point, he has grown. He doesn’t care what y’all say. He knows basketball better than everybody put together in this room. He goes and plays the game and does what’s necessary.
“So he’ll be a lot more of a problem than he was in ’07. That’s for sure.”
James now has one title ring and is working on collecting that handful he playfully promised when he and his talents left Cleveland for South Beach in 2010.
“A lot smarter, more experienced, older,” James said. “I think that’s the most important thing, I’ve matured as a basketball player.”
Q Will James defend Parker?
A You bet.
But who knows, he might defend Duncan some, too.
That’s why teammates call James “1 through 5,” a guy who felt snubbed when he didn’t win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year but still can — and will — guard everybody from point guard to center.
“We’ll see it how it plays out,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s our Super Glue. Wherever we need to put him, he’ll make it work.”
Many other teams have put taller, bigger players on Parker, usually in futile attempts to counter his pick-and-roll precision and slow his attacks to the basket. But no other team has a defender as versatile as James.
“We’ll see if they are going to do that,” Parker said, “but I’m kind of used to it.”
Q So why does network TV still bother with those Popovich sideline interviews?
A Maybe making TNT, ESPN or ABC sideline reporters anxious and uncomfortable is just sport to him, but it’s obvious the Spurs coach doesn’t think he — or his brethren — should be asked to do television interviews during games and everything about his body language and terse answers say so.
So why continue with something so predictably painfully and uninformative?
ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, who might next season again be answering those sideline questions in Brooklyn or Los Angeles, suggests it might be more productive to interview the head referee or some common fan.
“I think it would just as interesting interviewing a random fan because they [the coaches] are just not into it,” Van Gundy said. “It’s almost become funny how short Gregg is. … They’re trying to get to their timeout huddle to do what their job is.”
|San Diego||7:25 PM|
|Minnesota||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|NY Giants||12/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Buffalo||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Denver||12/22/14 7:30 PM|
|Phoenix||95||4th Qtr 1:34|
|San Antonio||7:30 PM|
|Tampa Bay||6:00 PM|
|NY Rangers||6:00 PM|
|St. Louis||9:30 PM|
|Mount St Marys||45||FINAL|
|South Alabama||62||1st OT 0:33|
|Syracuse||66||2nd Half 0:56|
|Belmont||66||2nd Half 1:56|
|St Bonaventure||38||2nd Half 12:00|
|Montreat||27||2nd Half 16:25|
|Delaware||42||2nd Half 17:15|
|South Florida||28||2nd Half 19:48|
|Vanderbilt||39||2nd Half 13:22|
|SC State||38||2nd Half 15:59|
|Missouri||30||2nd Half 20:00|
|Truett-McConnell||25||2nd Half 18:19|
|Toledo||60||2nd Half 11:25|
|Elon||42||2nd Half 18:22|
|Drexel||33||2nd Half 14:47|
|St Francis-PA||45||2nd Half 16:37|
|Albany||39||2nd Half 12:33|
|PSU-Beaver||37||2nd Half 18:00|
|Eastern Ill||30||2nd Half 15:52|
|Indiana||37||1st Half 3:11|
|Marshall||11||1st Half 15:48|
|Lafayette||7||1st Half 15:52|
|Oral Roberts||4||1st Half 15:50|
|Western Mich||11||1st Half 14:00|
|Delaware State||3||1st Half 17:08|
|Fla Atlantic||4||1st Half 14:42|
|Arkansas Tech||9||1st Half 14:39|
|Stephen F Austin||13|
|Howard Payne||2||1st Half 15:46|
|UMBC||10||1st Half 14:39|
|St Josephs (IN)||2:05 PM|
|Eastern Mich||5||1st Half 15:24|
|UC Davis||3:00 PM|
|Houston Baptist||3:00 PM|
|Coll of Charleston|
|USC Upstate||3:00 PM|
|NC Central||3:00 PM|
|Miss Valley St|
|Illinois State||3:00 PM|
|Southern U||3:00 PM|
|Iowa State||4:00 PM|
|Wake Forest||4:00 PM|
|High Point||4:00 PM|
|Texas Southern||4:00 PM|
|New Hampshire||4:00 PM|
|Prairie View||4:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St|
|Central Conn St|
|Boston Univ||6:00 PM|
|Texas A&M||6:00 PM|
|Morgan State||6:00 PM|
|Saint Josephs||6:00 PM|
|East Carolina||6:00 PM|
|La Salle||6:00 PM|
|Incarnate Word||6:05 PM|
|Long Beach State||7:00 PM|
|TX-San Antonio||7:00 PM|
|SE Missouri St||7:30 PM|
|New Mexico||8:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|Utah Valley U||8:00 PM|
|Jacksonville St||8:00 PM|
|St Edwards||8:00 PM|
|NC State||8:30 PM|
|TX A&M-CC||9:00 PM|
|Cal Poly||9:00 PM|
|Fresno State||9:00 PM|
|Montana State||9:00 PM|
|Ball State||9:00 PM|
|San Diego St|
|South Dakota St||9:05 PM|
|Utah State||7||2nd Qtr 12:20|
|(23) Utah||2:30 PM|
|Western Mich||4:45 PM|
|South Alabama||8:15 PM|
|BYU||12/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||12/23/14 5:00 PM|
|Navy||12/23/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Central Mich||12/24/14 11:00 AM|
|Fresno State||12/24/14 7:00 PM|
|Illinois||12/26/14 12:00 PM|
|Rutgers||12/26/14 3:30 PM|
|NC State||12/26/14 7:00 PM|
|Cincinnati||12/27/14 12:00 PM|
|Duke||12/27/14 1:10 PM|
|(15) Arizona State|
|Miami-Florida||12/27/14 3:00 PM|
|Boston College||12/27/14 3:30 PM|
|(25) Nebraska||12/27/14 7:00 PM|
|East Tenn St||56||FINAL|
|(1) South Carolina||80|
|St Thomas Aquinas||45||FINAL|
|Grambling||27||2nd Half 15:40|
|Missouri||36||2nd Half 19:07|
|Robert Morris||38||2nd Half 13:12|
|Air Force||25||2nd Half 16:20|
|Hampton||27||2nd Half 16:42|
|American Univ||45||2nd Half 15:59|
|Texas Southern||36||2nd Half 20:00|
|Tenn Tech||24||2nd Half 15:41|
|Presbyterian||36||2nd Half 12:20|
|Penn||36||2nd Half 13:38|
|Lipscomb||26||2nd Half 10:46|
|Vermont||22||2nd Half 15:59|
|Charleston Southern||26||1st Half 3:41|
|Ohio Christian||35||2nd Half 11:39|
|Jacksonville||34||2nd Half 14:35|
|(17) Rutgers||35||2nd Half 16:19|
|Indiana||61||2nd Half 12:21|
|Indiana State||31||1st Half 2:16|
|Denver||22||1st Half 1:14|
|TX-San Antonio||2:00 PM|
|UCF||9||1st Half 15:12|
|Florida A&M||0||1st Half 20:00|
|Northwestern St||5||1st Half 16:43|
|Lehigh||6||1st Half 14:37|
|Montana State||3:00 PM|
|(22) West Virginia|
|Morgan State||3:00 PM|
|(18) Michigan State||3:00 PM|
|Ohio U||3:00 PM|
|Prairie View||3:00 PM|
|High Point||3:00 PM|
|William Jewell||3:30 PM|
|Louisiana Tech||4:00 PM|
|Southern Utah||4:00 PM|
|San Jose St||4:00 PM|
|San Diego State|
|Norfolk State||4:00 PM|
|Saint Peters||4:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|Oral Roberts||5:00 PM|
|Florida Atlantic||5:00 PM|
|New Mexico St|
|La Salle||5:00 PM|
|(16) Oregon State||5:30 PM|
|Sacred Heart||6:00 PM|
|Saint Louis||6:30 PM|
|Utah Valley U|
|Long Beach St|
|Old Dominion||7:00 PM|
|Austin Peay||9:00 PM|
|Lewis-Clark State||9:00 PM|
|(21) Miss State||9:30 PM|