NBA Finals Game 1 Preview: Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs

USA TODAY Sports

An NBA Finals rematch between the Heat and the Spurs carries a flurry of story lines and bad memories, but only one end goal for San Antonio.

Miami Heat @ San Antonio Spurs

AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
June 5, 2014, 8:00 PM Spurs Time
TV: ABC - RADIO: 1200 AM WOAI

The San Antonio Spurs host the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals tonight; a rematch from last year's Finals in which the Heat won it all in seven games.

We all remember, vividly, how the Heat stole the Finals away from the Spurs last season, but just in case you've developed some sick self-punishing form of pleasure since Game 6 and want a reminder, the internet is ready to give you thousands of words revisiting it.

Contrary to popular belief, though, the Spurs didn't set out to exact revenge against the Heat at the beginning of the season. Yes, Popovich gave numerous screenings of Game 6 to his players and staff over the summer, but this wasn't to put the bull's eye on Miami. It was more of a method to get past the devastation that resulted from last year's series. It was about not letting the pain that ended the season carry over to the 2013-14 campaign. Focusing only on Miami would've limited San Antonio's dominance over the entire league (see: Indiana Pacers). No, this season carried implications that were much bigger than LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.

But it's funny how the basketball gods work. The Spurs have seemingly gotten over every bit of heartache, put together a monumentally impressive season, climbed to the top of a scarily competitive Western Conference, all to end right back where this story started. Again, it wasn't the Heat that drove San Antonio to excellence this season, but it will be the Heat that stands in the way, yet again.

And you can't blame the Spurs for being happy about that.

Since winning the Western Conference Finals, Tim Duncan has been unusually vocal about the Spurs rematch against the Heat in the NBA Finals. He told the media, "We've got four more to win. We'll do it this time." He went on to add, "We're happy that it's the Heat. We've got that bad taste in our mouths still."

Sports news outlets and blogs have since been giddy that they were able to get some sort of mild-mannered trash talk from the GOAT PUFF, and have taken every angle on these sound bites. They even brought it up to LeBron James, who responded, "They don't like us. They don't. I can sense it from Timmy's comments over the past couple days... They want us, so they got us."

The Heat have the misfortune of facing the Spurs at the prime of their season, save for the possible injury to Tony Parker, who is still slated to start in Game 1. San Antonio was able to finish off the Thunder, with Serge Ibaka, winning a competitive overtime battle in Oklahoma City in Game 6 to claim the Western Conference Championship. The Thunder actually posed a bigger threat to the Spurs, in many eyes, than the Heat purely based on the athleticism of the roster. Miami has had a weaker sprint to the Finals than San Antonio and has not had to play their best basketball just yet. The Spurs have the advantage in that they are already in gear to battle, while the Heat are going to need to find a way to summon that courage.

Every contest leading up to Game 1 of the NBA Finals has been a display of determination and fortitude for the Spurs, leaving no doubt in the minds of all that have witnessed their playing ability that they are going to compete for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Now that the rematch between San Antonio and Miami is set and tipoff is hours away, there's a feeling that no other outcome could've or should've ever occurred.  This is more than a matchup between the East and West's best squads. This is basketball destiny.

Matchup to watch: The matchup between Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James is going to be an intriguing one all series long, especially in the type of game Kawhi forces LeBron to play when he's on the court. What proves to be most detrimental for James' game is the way Leonard prevents him from getting into the paint. If LeBron can get into the paint, he's going to be scoring a flurry of easy baskets while also drawing in defenders to crash on him, leaving shooters at the perimeter open. Kawhi's defensive prowess stops the trips into the paint for James, thus forcing him to rely on his midrange game while completely eliminating the need for defenders to crash. While LeBron normally demands extra attention from players who aren't even guarding him, Kawhi has the ability to limit the pressure that is put on the rest of the Spurs to help him out, which allows more focus on the guys they should be guarding.

Game 1, 2014 NBA Finals
@
Regular Season: 54-28
Playoffs: 12-3

Regular Season: 62-20
Playoffs: 12-6
June 5, 2014
AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
8:00 pm CST
TV: ABC - Radio: 1200 WOAI
Starters
Mario Chalmers PG Tony Parker
Dwyane Wade SG Danny Green
LeBron James SF Kawhi Leonard
Shane Battier PF Tim Duncan
Chris Bosh C Tiago Splitter
Advanced Stats
91.2 (27th) Pace 95.0 (10th)
110.9 (5th) ORtg 110.4 (7th)
105.8 (11th) DRtg 102.4 (3rd)

For the Heat's perspective visit Hot Hot Hoops.

Game Prediction: Spurs by 4.

Line in Vegas: Spurs by 4.

As always Tony must dominate Fisher, for real this time, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment:

Tel: 210-444-5607 | dfarias@attcenter.com

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