For the first time in four seasons, the NBA Finals are a rematch. Defending champions the Miami Heat look to take on the San Antonio Spurs again this year after a tightly contested series in 2013 that emerged as one of the best Finals in the last decade. It was the series that shifted on Ray Allen’s pivotal Game 6 three-point shot, arguably the biggest three to ever be made in an NBA Finals game; Tim Duncan’s missed layups will also be remembered. Duncan’s open missed layups, excuse us.
What seemed inconceivable at the time was that San Antonio would play well enough to make it back. The lasting images of the Spurs this time a year ago were of a team that had played as well as they possibly could, enjoyed a career season from their then 37-year-old centerpiece, and had the good fortune to make it past an Oklahoma City Thunder team that had traded James Harden to the Rockets and lost Russell Westbrook to injury. The Spurs were on the way out, and last season was their best chance to win Duncan another ring.
Or so everyone thought. Then the Spurs kept everyone’s minutes below 30 per game for the first time since the ABA, held on to the top seed in the highly competitive Western Conference as the only team in the league to top 60 wins, steamrolled the Thunder even after Tony Parker was out for the majority of a decisive Western Conference Finals Game 6, and generally made everyone look stupid for predicting the demise of San Antonio. The same way they do almost every year. And the Heat still beat them.
With the scene sufficiently set, let’s take a look at the four biggest stories surrounding this year’s iteration of basketballs biggest stage.