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Duncan, James set to break their Finals tie

Spurs, Heat Ready For NBA Finals Sequel

BY TIM REYNOLDS
AP BASKETBALL WRITER

MIAMI (AP) -- Over the last 10 seasons, only one NBA player has been part of more wins than LeBron James.

His name is Tim Duncan.

Their numbers over that decade are incredibly similar. Duncan has appeared in 622 regular-season and playoff victories, James has played in 621. Duncan is shooting 50.2 percent from the field, James is shooting 50 percent. Duncan has won two championships with San Antonio during this 10-season stretch, James has two with Miami.

Plus, when facing each other in the NBA Finals, both has won one, lost one.

Here comes the tiebreaker - a Finals rematch that will have high expectations.

Miami and San Antonio are the league's last two teams standing for the second consecutive year, their next chapter starting on the Spurs' home floor Thursday night. The Heat won a wild series last season for their second straight championship, needing a frantic rally to avoid elimination in Game 6 and then riding the strength of a 37-point, 12-rebound effort from James to top the Spurs in Game 7.

"I think our guys, they actually grew from the loss last year," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I call it fortitude. I think they showed an unbelievable amount of fortitude. If I can compliment my own team humbly, to have that tough loss, especially the Game 6 and not have a pity party and come back this year and get back to the same position, I think that's fortitude."

It's the league's first Finals rematch since Chicago and Utah played in 1997 and 1998.

The teams have actually played three times since last season's classic series ended, twice in the regular season, another being a preseason meeting in Miami where the Spurs acknowledged that the pain of losing Game 7 on that floor was still real.

Then again, it's almost like they wanted to feel that hurt at times. Popovich showed the Spurs clips of Games 6 and 7 early in training camp this season, not so much to open old wounds but rather speed up the healing process.

"We were just trying to put it away, just get over that part of it, learn from it, and move forward from there," said Duncan, a champion in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007.

Move forward, they did.

San Antonio won 62 games in the regular season, the best record in the league. One of those wins was a 24-point romp over Miami, on the same floor where this series will start on Thursday.

The Heat know what wanting revenge feels like. They lost the 2011 NBA Finals to Dallas, then opened the following season on the Mavericks' floor and simply blew them away.

Heat forward Chris Bosh called it "extra motivation" for the Spurs.

"It's just something that we have to deal with, and we know that they're going to be very passionate, and they're going to play some good basketball," Bosh said. "So whoever we play, we just have to continue to keep our approach the same and play good basketball."

While the Spurs were punching their ticket by ousting Oklahoma City from the West finals on Saturday night, the Heat were getting a day off. James was taking his kids to see X-Men. James Jones went to a home-improvement store for some supplies. Bosh insisted he was going to do as little as possible, and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra isn't summoning his team to practice again until Monday.

By then, James will be locked in on the Spurs.

"It hasn't really hit us that much yet because I think we're in it," James said Friday night after Miami beat Indiana and clinched its fourth consecutive East championship. "I think it will once we're done and we're able to look back at what we were able to accomplish as players, as a franchise. I think that's when it will really hit us. We definitely don't take it for granted to be in this position."

So for the next few days, all the highlights of last year's finals will be played over and over again.

The shot by Tony Parker - who missed the second half of Saturday night's game with a left ankle injury - to win Game 1 in Miami for the Spurs. James' twirl-on-the-rim dunk as the Heat pulled away in Game 2. San Antonio sharpshooter Danny Green's Finals-record 3-point display. Bosh's rebound that led to Ray Allen's shot that saved Miami's season in Game 6. The yellow rope, the precursor to a Spurs celebration that never happened.

All made for an epic series.

The encore could be even better.

"Obviously we are very happy and pleased with the season we have had so far, but we are not by any means satisfied," Green said. "We know we have a lot of work to do against a very good team. There is a reason why they're back there and are two-time champs. We have our work cut out for us, but we are happy with going back - just not satisfied."

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
maryellendaws June 01 2014 at 10:40 PM

GO TIM -- SPURS WIN!!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
2 replies
smileyray28 maryellendaws June 02 2014 at 2:12 AM

Great respect for Tim and Spurs , but Miami again

Flag Reply +1 rate up
sdowns1470 maryellendaws June 02 2014 at 9:55 AM

Tim Duncan is a Spurs legend and always will be in my mind. He is one of the greatest players of all time and he never had a flashy game style at any point in his career. Tim Duncan has been with the Spurs since I was 9 years old in the summer of 1997, I am 26 now. All these years later, I still admire him and what I like most about him and the team is that they are largely out of the limelight and keep to themselves.

Tim Duncan used to be a competitive swimmer, but after Hurricane Hugo destroyed the only olympic size pool on St. Croix, his interest in swimming declined. Around that time, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. While his mother was still alive, he swam competitively and once she died he quit altogether. His mother died April 24, 1990, one day before his 14th birthday.

In 2001 I believe it was, his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His father died shortly after he celebrated his 26th birthday.

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bhughes731 June 02 2014 at 10:49 AM

TIM AND THE SPURS...ALL CLASS ACTS... PLEASE WIN, SO THAT KIDS LEARN HUMILITY AND GET THE JOB DONE INSTEAD OF BEATING THEIR CHEST THAT THEY'RE BETTER THAN EVERYBODY...

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
kglaub bhughes731 June 02 2014 at 11:16 AM

I never call a basketball player a class act.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
5 replies
vango12 June 02 2014 at 12:31 PM

Spurs are a great team! Heat is a great team! The big difference is that the Spurs must also beat the Ref's... to many "missed" calls... in to many playoff games.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
patriot1too June 01 2014 at 11:47 PM

The NBA has shown itself to be both racist as well as pandering to some politicaly correct propaganda. We could care less about their silly basketball racist nonsense anymore.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
4 replies
mad_dawg_1 June 02 2014 at 1:10 PM

The whole NBA IS FIXED. And until people stop watching it will continue

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
jdsept mad_dawg_1 June 02 2014 at 1:48 PM

Oh yeah, fixed because YOU say so. How much would YOU have to pay a player making 20mil to fix a game and possibly blow a 200mil career? With endorsements a possible billion? Why would they fix any game? Talk about being mad.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
2 replies
bhughes731 jdsept June 02 2014 at 2:12 PM

It's not always the players.. Remember the refs that got caught?

Flag +1 rate up
mad_dawg_1 jdsept June 02 2014 at 2:13 PM

Its not players paying dumass, it is the NBA that wants teams to win. So they give them all the calls, went through the same crap with jordon. And one player IS NOT THAT MUCH BETTER THEN ALL THE REST.

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debnaert June 02 2014 at 10:27 AM

I hope the Spurs BEAT Miami....they BUY their TROPHIES.... The NBA should be ashamed that they allow these team owners to pay higher taxes JUST to win a trophy. Should prove to be a real knock down drag out since TWO of the dirtiest players in the league are playing against each other.... GINOBILI AND WADE.

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1 reply
bhughes731 debnaert June 02 2014 at 12:08 PM

They're 2 old guys..... Give em a break....They just play harder than most...

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dre111 June 02 2014 at 9:50 AM

sorry heat fans. 5 game series, spurs pick get the ring. for all you thought police people, hahahahahahahahaha..

Flag Reply +2 rate up
mazd273 June 02 2014 at 7:18 AM

Heat / Spurs 2.0 this should be a great series. Both teams use lots of ball movement in their offense. Both teams have great shooters. Both defenses scramble. Both teams are no nonsense, they just play the game (e.g. after last season's final's win in the post game interview the 1st thing D. Wade said congrats to the Spurs for a great series.) Looking forward to this one. Heat in a tough 7 game series.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
dean552014 June 02 2014 at 7:29 AM

the players are just as good as yester-year. BUt its more like wathing a all-star game. where the defense ??? I really liked the game- when if you drove the lane-you paid with pain. If you got the ball down low--you would be swormed. ITs just stand and shoot now---- Am I wrong ???

Flag Reply +1 rate up
tfava June 02 2014 at 10:29 AM

WHO GIVES A FLYING F***!

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1 reply
ferrariqx tfava June 02 2014 at 11:38 AM

You do. That's why you read the article and posted.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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