Miami wins series 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

Miami wins series 4-3

Game 1: Thursday, June 6th
Game 2: Sunday, June 9th
Game 3: Tuesday, June 11th
Game 4: Thursday, June 13th
Game 5: Sunday, June 16th
Game 6: Tuesday, June 18th
Game 7: Thursday, June 20th

Spurs 92

(58-24, 23-18 away)

Heat 88

(66-16, 37-4 home)

    Coverage: ABC

    9:00 PM ET, June 6, 2013

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    SA 23 26 20 2392
    MIA 24 28 20 1688

    Top Performers

    SA: T. Duncan 20 Pts, 14 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Mia: L. James 18 Pts, 18 Reb, 10 Ast

    Spurs-Heat Preview

    MIAMI (AP) -- Before reaching the top of basketball, LeBron James was run over by the San Antonio Spurs.

    The Spurs swept James' Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals, so long ago that the winning game plan focused on exploiting James' weaknesses. Those are nearly impossible to find now, and James essentially warned the Spurs that they shouldn't bother looking.

    The Spurs already know.

    "He'll be a lot more of a problem than he was in `07, that's for sure," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Wednesday.

    Tim Duncan told the beaten James minutes after that series that the league would someday belong to him, and he was right. The NBA's MVP guided Miami to last year's championship and the league's best record this season.

    Now the Spurs will try to take it back.

    But James is now the best player in the game, is surrounded by more talent in Miami than he ever had in Cleveland, and still carries the memory of the beating the Spurs laid on him six years ago.

    "I have something in me that they took in `07. Beat us on our home floor, celebrated on our home floor. I won't forget that. You shouldn't as a competitor. You should never forget that," James said.

    He joined the Heat in 2010, experienced more finals failure a year later, then was finals MVP last year when Miami beat Oklahoma City in five games. Another title now would put him halfway to the four that Duncan and Popovich have won together.

    "That's what I'm here for," James said. "I'm here to win championships, and you're not always going to be on the successful side. I've seen it twice, not being on the successful side."

    He was just 22 at the end of his fourth year in the league when he carried to the Cavs to their first finals appearance. But there were holes in his game, from an unreliable jump shot to an undeveloped post game, and the Spurs took advantage of every one of them.

    James shot 36 percent in the series, including a ghastly 10 for 30 in Game 4, and committed 23 turnovers.

    "Well, LeBron is a different player than he was in `07," Popovich said. "That was like ancient history. 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. But at this point he's grown."

    James wasn't interested in discussing much of that series, but he recalled the way the Spurs' strategy kept him from getting into the paint and dared him to shoot jumpers.

    There's no blueprint now that would encourage a guy who made 56.5 percent of his shots this season to shoot the ball.

    "If you go under my pick-and-roll now, I'm going to shoot. And I'm confident I'm going to make every last one of them," James said. "I'm just more confident in my ability to shoot the ball.

    "But at the same time, I also have a lot more weapons this time around going against this team, where in `07 they loaded three guys to me a lot on the strong side of the floor. So like I said, I'm a better player, and you can't dare me to do anything I don't want to do in 2013."

    Duncan and James probably wouldn't have thought it would take so long to see each other in the finals again after their meeting in the hallway of Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena. San Antonio had built a quiet dynasty, winning four titles in nine years, and the core of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili would keep giving the Spurs chances.

    But they couldn't get out of the West even while finishing with the best record in the conference the last two years, just as Cleveland couldn't in the East during James' last two seasons there.

    "I hoped to be back here. Whether he would he here or not, I couldn't predict that," the 37-year-old Duncan said. "Knowing the player that he was then and the trajectory he was on, I had no doubt he would be back here. I had no doubt he would be tops in this league at some point. And I'm glad and honored to be back here playing against him."

    The Spurs have been off since finishing a sweep of Memphis on May 27. The Heat were forced to overcome a rugged Indiana team and the struggles of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in a seven-game series that wrapped up Monday.

    That set up a finals between teams built in decidedly different ways but with mutual respect. While others around the league seethed, Popovich even called Pat Riley to offer congratulations after the Heat architect signed James and Bosh in 2010.

    It gives James a chance to pay the Spurs back for their 2007 romp, when they forced the Cavaliers into the worst offensive performance in finals history.

    "I believe that after that finals he probably always obviously wanted to get back again. But I think he probably always wanted to get back and play them," Wade said. "So obviously having this opportunity right now is probably something he always dreamed of, of getting back to the finals and playing the Spurs again."

    The Spurs' Big Three didn't have to endure the same wait to win. Duncan won a title in just his second season, and Parker was only 21 when he earned his first. Yet eventually they stalled, so they're as eager for this opportunity as James.

    "When I was 21 and I won my first one, it was kind of fast and we think it's going to happen every year. We think it's easy. But after a lot of years in the league, you realize it's really hard to go to the finals," Parker said. "Now we take nothing for granted. We appreciate every moment, and we'll see what happens."


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    Research Notes

    From Elias: Gregg Popovich is 20-3 all-time in best-of-seven playoff series when his team wins Game 1. His .870 series win percentage ranks only behind Phil Jackson and Red Auerbach among head coaches with a minimum of 15 series coached.
    Reigning champions are 9-1 in the NBA Finals dating back to 1990. The only team to beat a reigning champ during that span? The 2004-05 Spurs, who defeated the Pistons in seven games.
    The Spurs' Tim Duncan will join A.C. Green and John Salley as the only players in NBA history to make a Finals appearance in three separate decades. (from the NBA)
    The Spurs are 1-4 against the Heat since 2010, their worst record against any team. And, San Antonio has been outscored by 9.4 points per 100 possessions by Miami, their worst net rating against any team in that span.
    The Heat and Spurs use their Big 3s in very different ways. Miami's Big 3 in their most used 3-man combination this postseason. The Spurs Big 3 is their 10-most used 3-man combination.
    LeBron James has played in 24 career playoff series. His worst performance came in the 2007 NBA Finals in which he had a PER of only 13.1 - against the Spurs.
    Tony Parker increased his scoring, shooting percentage and assists in the Conference Finals from his first two series this postseason.
    From Elias: If history is an indicator of things to come, the Spurs will take Game 1 and home-court advantage tomorrow night. San Antonio has never lost Game 1 in the NBA Finals as they are 1 of 2 teams with a perfect record in the opening game of the NBA Finals.
    From Elias: If the Heat lose Game 1, don't panic... they've got the Spurs right where they want them. Both of Miami's NBA Championships came with a Game 1 loss. Only the Lakers and Celtics have more wins when losing Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
    From Elias: Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis will become the 7th and 8th active players to play in the NBA Finals for multiple teams.
    From Elias: The Heat have homecourt advantage in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. In NBA Finals history, the home team is 50-16 in Game 1 (75.8%).
    The last time the Heat and Spurs squared off with James/Wade/Bosh and Duncan/Parker/Ginobili ALL active was March 14, 2011. Since then, Miami leads the NBA with 124 wins, while San Antonio ranks 3rd with 115 -- but the Heat "Big 3" have outscored the Spurs "Big 3" by more than 18 PPG.
    From Elias: The 2013 NBA Finals will feature 4 former NBA Finals MVPs in LeBron James, Dwyane Wade of the Heat and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker of the Spurs. It marks the 4th time in NBA Finals history that at least 4 former NBA Finals MVPs played in the same NBA Finals. 2013 NBA Finals - HEAT: LeBron James Dwyane Wade - SPURS: Tim Duncan Tony Parker 1987 NBA Finals - LAKERS: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Magic Johnson - CELTICS: Larry Bird Dennis Johnson Bill Walton 1985 NBA Finals - LAKERS: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Magic Johnson - CELTICS: Larry Bird Dennis Johnson Cedric Maxwell 1984 NBA Finals - LAKERS: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Magic Johnson - CELTICS: Dennis Johnson Cedric Maxwell
    From Elias: Gregg Popovich is nearly 22 years older than Erik Spoelstra. It is the largest age differential between head coaches meeting in the Finals in NBA history.
    From Elias: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have combined to play 56 NBA Finals games... everyone on the Heat roster has played in the NBA Finals except "The Birdman." Combine all the experience and these 2 teams have 182 NBA Finals games played... that's 5th most in the last 25 seasons according to Elias.
    From Elias: Teams that played in at least one Game 7 prior to the NBA Finals are just 23-25 in the Finals.
    From Elias: The Heat are back in the NBA Finals to defend their title. In NBA history, defending champions win 72.4% of the time in their returns to the Finals (21-8).
    It may seem like awhile ago, but Tim Duncan won back-to-back MVP awards in the early 2000s. With Duncan's Spurs going against 4-time MVP LeBron James and the Heat, this will be the 7th Finals matchup in league history featuring opposing players with multiple MVPs at the time of the series. The last such matchup came 22 years ago, when Michael Jordan's Bulls defeated Magic Johnson's Lakers for Jordan's 1st NBA title.

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