The Heat and Spurs NBA Finals rematch will tip off Thursday, and the Spurs are eager to avenge themselves after collapsing last season and losing a series which they led 3-2. Spurs power forward Tim Duncan even said that it was the Heat that his Spurs wanted to face this year.
The odds and Father Time are stacked against them, but this is the Spurs' sixth finals berth since 1999.
The Heat cruised to their fourth straight finals appearance and seek their third consecutive NBA championship.
If they succeed, they will become just the sixth team in NBA history to "three-peat," and the first since the Lakers did it from 2000-02.
Although there was much debate during the season about which Eastern Conference team would knock them out this year, nobody came close.
There are many rings on the fingers of the Heat and Spurs players, but nobody has more than Duncan, who is aiming for his fifth. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have two and three, respectively, so they are both looking to enhance their legacy and add another to their collections.
Since the Heat and Spurs are so evenly matched, each game should come down to the wire.
While the Heat are top-heavy and are carried by James, Wade and Chris Bosh, the Spurs are deep and play a team game, priding themselves on ball movement. No player is averaging more than five assists per game for them this postseason.
The Heat play excellent defense, holding playoff opponents to a meager 92.1 points per game. They are quick on rotations, so the Spurs, who are scoring 106.6 points per game in the playoffs, will have to work hard for every basket.
In the end, however, the Spurs will prevail. It's hard to bet against Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginóbili -- especially when they have a chip on their shoulder like they do this year.
Prediction: Spurs in seven