San Antonio wins series 4-1
|Game 1: Thursday, June 5th|
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|Game 2: Sunday, June 8th|
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|Game 3: Tuesday, June 10th|
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|Game 4: Thursday, June 12th|
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|Game 5: Sunday, June 15th|
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9:00 PM ET, June 5, 2014
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Tim Duncan doesn't need them.
He can't forget the way his San Antonio Spurs lost, especially since every replay brings another painful reminder. The Spurs were on the verge of celebrating a fifth title in Game 6, and just two nights later were congratulating the Miami Heat on their second straight crown.
The Spurs wanted a rematch, and so did basketball fans. It begins Thursday in San Antonio.
"I think it's great that these two franchises have this opportunity in back-to-back years to compete for a championship," Wade said Wednesday. "Last year was an unbelievable series and ... it went down to the very end. We won the series by a total of five points, you know? That's how close it was. But it was a very even series. I think this year it could be another great series."
From Tony Parker's circus shot that stole Game 1 for the Spurs, to Ray Allen's 3-pointer that saved Game 6 for the Heat, to James' jumper that put away Game 7, almost every contest provided a new highlight. It deserved an encore, just like when the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers seemed to pick up right where they left off in the 1980s.
The NBA hasn't had a finals rematch since 1998, when Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls beat Utah for the second straight season. San Antonio is considered a slight favorite this time, perhaps a little deeper, healthier and better than it was last year, and owning the home-court advantage this time.
The Spurs don't need to change much to change the result. They outscored the Heat 684-679 over seven games, and there were 47 ties and 42 lead changes, according to STATS.
"If you look at the numbers, the lead changes, the ties and the points in that series, it's almost even," James said. "So we did our part, they did their part.
"Both teams put themselves in a position to win an NBA championship, and we just happened to make one or two more plays to win it."
Duncan, a three-time NBA Finals MVP who had been 4 for 4 at this stage, wasn't on the floor when the Spurs couldn't come up with a rebound just before Allen's shot. He then missed a shot and follow attempt from right in front of the basket in the final minute of Game 7 with San Antonio trailing by two. Not even getting back to the finals again with the league's best record can make him forget.
"It lasts. I have a very good memory, especially for my misses and losses. You keep those, you learn from them and you hope to change them next time," Duncan said.
"That stuck with me and obviously it's always in the back of my mind, and every time I see anything to do with that, it pops right back in."
James had similar regrets in his first finals with Miami in 2011, but it's been all smiles since. The Heat are the first team to play in four straight finals since Boston from 1984-87, and can become the first three-time champion since the Lakers more than a decade ago.
But their focus is only on winning the next title, not reminiscing about the last couple.
"Last year is last year and we're excited about it, but this trophy this year belongs to nobody," James said. "It's up for grabs."
Both teams have reason to think they will win it. Wade is much healthier than last year, when he needed extensive treatment before Game 7, and the Heat have been able to get him extra rest by losing just three games in the first three rounds.
The Spurs' Manu Ginobili is also in much better shape this year and Patty Mills has emerged as an effective point guard off the bench, giving San Antonio options if Parker is slowed by the sore left ankle that knocked him out of Game 6 of the Western Conference finals.
It's the sixth finals for the Spurs since 1999 and Miami's fifth in nine years, but both face uncertain futures. Duncan, Parker, Ginobili and coach Gregg Popovich could be near the end of their run together. James, Wade and Bosh can all become free agents this summer.
That's for July. For now, maybe the teams can duplicate last June.
"You hope it's going to be a great series for both teams' sake, for the fans that love our game," James said. "You hope it can be one of the great finals appearances."
Just like last year.
Follow Brian Mahoney on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Briancmahoney
Team Stat Leaders
The Spurs won Game 1 despite turning the ball over 23 times. It was the most turnovers by a team in a Finals win since the Lakers totaled 23 in Game 1 of the 1982 Finals against the 76ers.
Although the Heat beat the Spurs last year with homecourt advantage, the previous 2 teams with the homecourt edge went on to lose, including Miami against Dallas in the 2011 Finals. Those 2 instances matched the total of the previous 12 finals (10-2). The Finals format was changed this year from 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1.
The Heat and Spurs have been the 2 most efficient teams in the NBA over the last 2 postseasons, respectively, in terms of field goal percentage and 3-point percentage. Meanwhile, the two teams have posted the highest assist per game differential over that span. They also boasted the highest combined field goal percentage over the course of both regular seasons.[+]
All About Efficiency - 2013-14 Playoffs
From Elias: Tony Parker leads the Spurs in scoring with 17.2 PPG this postseason. That's tied for the 2nd-fewest PPG by a team's leading scorer entering the NBA Finals in the shot-clock era (since 1954-55). Only George Yardley of the Fort Wayne Pistons averaged fewer PPG back in 1955.[+]
Fewest Playoff PPG By Leading Scorer - Entering NBA Finals Appearance
Tim Duncan currently has a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 21.6 this postseason. If he can maintain the PER through the Finals, he will tie Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 14 postseasons with at least 20 PER in NBA history. A PER of 15 is average.[+]
From Elias: LeBron James and Tim Duncan have each been their team's outright leader in points, rebounds and assists on 2 occasions in the NBA Finals. That's 1 shy of the all-time record held by Larry Bird.[+]
The Heat and Spurs meet in the NBA Finals for the 2nd straight season, the first Finals rematch since the Bulls and Jazz in 1997-98. The Bulls won both of those series but prior to that the previous five rematches were won by the team who had lost the year before. The Spurs are the first team since the 1988-89 Pistons to make it back to the NBA Finals after losing a Game 7 in the Finals the prior year.[+]
NBA Finals Rematches All-Time
The Spurs lead the NBA in Net Efficiency this postseason (+10.1 Net Pts/100 Poss), but that hasn't led to NBA titles of late. In 5 of the previous 7 seasons, the team with the best playoff Net Efficiency entering the NBA Finals failed to win the title including the Spurs in 2013.[+]
Best Net Effiency Entering NBA Finals - Each Postseason Since 2007
Ken Mauer, Scott Foster and Marc Davis are your Game 1 officials for tonight's NBA Finals. Mauer has officiated 12 NBA Finals Games in his 28 seasons. Scott Foster has 20 years NBA experience and 10 NBA Finals games. Marc Davis has NBA Finals 2 games under his belt and John Goble - the alternate - has none entering Game 1.[+]
2014 NBA Finals - Game 1 Officials
From Elias: When the Heat take the court in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, LeBron James and Chris Bosh will join Bob McAdoo and Dennis Johnson as the only players in NBA history to play in the NBA Finals in each of their first 4 seasons with a new team. McAdoo was traded from the Nets to the Lakers in December of 1981 and then proceeded to play in 4 straight Finals with the Lakers. Johnson was traded from the Suns to the Celtics in June of 1983 and then appeared in 4 straight Finals with Boston.
Gregg Popovich says Tony Parker will play despite being hampered by an ankle injury that kept him out for the entire second half and overtime of San Antonio's series-clinching win over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals on Saturday. Parker is averaging a team-leading 17.2 points and 4.9 assists this postseason, but as the Spurs showed on Saturday, they are still extremely competitive without him. The Spurs are outscoring opponents by 13.3 points per 100 possessions in the 326 minutes Parker has been off the court this postseason (+8.2 with him on the court). While that is small sample that can be skewed due to garbage time - if you combine the postseason with the regular season the story remains the same. Parker sat nearly as much as he played and the Spurs were slightly better both offensively and defensively per 100 possessions.[+]
Spurs With Tony Parker On/Off Court - This Season Including Playoffs
This is the 5th NBA Finals appearance for LeBron James. He's averaging 26.7 points and 10.6 rebounds over his last 2 NBA Finals series while registering a player efficiency rating of 25.4. In LeBron's first 2 appearances, his teams won just 2 of 10 games and he posted a player efficiency rating of 15.3, right around the league average of 15.0.[+]
LeBron James NBA Finals Career
There have been 12 repeat Finals matchups in NBA history. But no Finals repeat has ever featured back-to-back Game 7s between the teams.
* Heat are 6-2 when trailing after 1st quarter in playoffs, best of any team in 2014 playoffs * Spurs are 7-2 when leading after 1st qtr this postseason
The Spurs have won at least 60 percent of their games in each of the last 17 seasons since drafting Tim Duncan in 1997. That's the longest streak in NBA history (by far) with a win percentage of at least .600 in a season (ELIAS).[+]
Most Consecutive Seasons with .600 Win Percentage - NBA History
Manu Ginobili is the first player with at least 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists off the bench in an NBA Finals game since Michael Cooper for the Lakers in 1982. He's the first player ever with at least 15 points, 5 rebounds and *10 assists* off the bench in an NBA Finals game, since starters were first recorded in 1970-71.[+]
In the 10 minutes LeBron James was off the court in the 2nd half, the Heat were outscored by 21 points. Miami was plus-11 in the 14 minutes James played in the 2nd half.
LeBron James joins Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players with at least 4,000 career points and 1,000 career assists in NBA postseason history. Nobody has reached those numbers in fewer games than LeBron -- he joined the club in 18 fewer games than Jordan and 57 fewer games than Kobe.[+]
The Heat were outscored by 15 points while LeBron James was on the bench in Game 1, easily the most in any playoff loss since James joined the team before the 2010-11 season.[+]
Worst Pts Diff with LeBron James Off Floor - Heat in Playoff Losses since 2011
The Heat have won 12 consecutive playoff games following a loss. The last time they lost back-to-back games was in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals (lost 3 straight vs Celtics)
The Spurs shot 66.7 percent (12-of-18) on catch-and-shoot jump shots in Game 1, tied for their best this postseason. The Heat were slow to close out on those attempts as 14 of the 18 were uncontested, with the Spurs going 10-of-14.[+]
Spurs on Catch-and-Shoot Attempts in Game 1
The Spurs went 14-of-16 from the floor in the fourth quarter as they outscored the Heat by 19 in the final frame. How did the Spurs blow the game open? - The Spurs went 6-of-6 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter. Of those six attempts, five were uncontested. - The Spurs outscored the Heat 14-6 in the paint in the fourth quarter. The Spurs went 7-of-8 on those attempts, the Heat went 3-of-5. - The Heat failed to record a single transition opportunity in the fourth quarter after scoring 23 transition points on 16 opportunities in the first three quarters.
Following the Spurs' 15-point win over the Heat in Game 1 on Thursday... In NBA Finals history, 9 of the 10 teams to win Game 1 by 15+ points at home went on to win the series. The only such team to lose the series was the 1985 Celtics against the Lakers.
Here's a telling reason why the Heat and Spurs are in the Finals... Both have easily the best net efficiency this postseason, which is measured based on how much a team outscores or gets outscored by its opponent per 100 possessions. San Antonio was plus 10 while Miami was plus 8. No other team was better than 1.3.[+]
Highest Net Efficiency This Postseason
ESPN Stats & Information