Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 5th 2013 Contents A52
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, June 5, 2013
MIAMI---The NBA Finals matchup is finally
set, and the Miami Heat will either win a
second straight title or the San Antonio Spurs
will deny LeBron James a championship ring
for the second time.
The Heat earned their third consecutive
Eastern Conference title on Monday, beating
the Indiana Pacers 99-76 in Game 7 of their
So it s Heat versus Spurs for the Larry
O Brien Trophy, a series that will begin tomor-
row night in Miami, on the same floor where
the Heat and James finished off Oklahoma
City to win last season s title.
Miami is looking for its third championship,
San Antonio its fifth. And for James, it s a
chance to erase a memory that has stung him
for six years.
His first trip to the finals came when he
was with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, and
it was ugly---the Spurs winning in a four-game
sweep for what was their fourth title. San
Antonio has not won the West since, so maybe
it s fitting that its return comes against James,
albeit with the now four-time Most Valuable
Player in a different uniform.
"Obviously, I needed more," James said.
"Our team, we were really good, but we weren t
great. And that was a great team. We lost to
a better team. So I understand that we needed
more. We continued to get better over the
years, but we never got to that level."
When that series was over, Spurs forward
Tim Duncan approached James in a quiet
moment and offered some words of encour-
agement about his budding superstardom.
Four MVPs, two more finals trips and one
ring---and counting---later, James star level is
now meteoric. He ll have a chance to not only
win consecutive championships, but consec-
utive regular-season and finals MVPs as well.
"The best player in the world," is how Indi-
ana coach Frank Vogel described James.
When the Heat and Spurs meet, it will mark
their third meeting of the season. It may as
well be the first.
Miami won both games this season, though
it s doubtful much of anything worthwhile
could be gleaned for the scouting reports from
those contests. The Spurs sat four regulars in
the first meeting, and drew a $250,000 fine
from the NBA after coach Gregg Popovich s
decision to send Duncan, Manu Ginobili,
Danny Green and Tony Parker home before
the game and at the end of a long road trip.
Predictably, Popovich s decision was imme-
diately subject to scrutiny, and he even joked
in his pregame media availability that night
that the crowd of journalists around him resem-
bled what he d see in an NBA Finals setting.
Which, come today when both teams will
practice in Miami, is exactly what Popovich
will see. It ll be a finals that have a clash of
on-court, off-court and even cultural styles.
The Heat play a flashier brand of basketball,
have stars who are some of the world s best-
known---and best-paid---endorsers of products,
and have had no choice but to embrace a con-
The Spurs, meanwhile, seem to revel in
shunning any sort of extra attention.
"I wouldn t say we avoid the attention, but
I don t think we re out seeking it," Spurs for-
ward Matt Bonner said.
"Our team culture starts with our leadership,
guys like Timmy and coach Pop, that we focus
on ourselves and what we need to do to com-
plete the task, get the job done. Whatever
attention we get outside of that, I don t think
we run from it, but we re not out seeking it.
At least, I think so. I hope so."
When the teams met in San Antonio in late
March, Miami s 27-game winning streak---the
second-best run in NBA history---had just
ended, so the Heat kept James, Dwyane Wade
and Mario Chalmers out while dealing with
injuries. And Miami prevailed anyway behind
Chris Bosh, who hit a late three-pointer to
seal an 88-86 victory.
Nobody will be resting anybody in the finals.
The Spurs, who will have been idle for more
than a week by the time Game 1 starts, finally
know who stands in their way.
The Spurs have been going live in practice,
trying their best to stay sharp.
"It s just long. It s long," Parker said of the
layoff. "Wish we could play like right now."
Soon enough, he ll get his wish. (AP)
Heat, Spurs to play for NBA title
Miami Heat's Ray Allen, left, holds the NBA Eastern Conference trophy as Chris Bosh hold his
son Jackson and Dwyane Wade and LeBron James smile, Monday in Miami. The Heat defeated
the Indiana Pacers 99-76 to advance to the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. AP PHOTO
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