Spurs seeking redemption versus Heat in the finals

Tue Jun 3, 2014 6:06pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - The San Antonio Spurs will be looking to avenge last year's agonizing loss to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals when the two teams return for a best-of-seven showdown that Hall of Famer Jerry West compares to an all-out brawl.

"It's going to be a knockdown, tough battle for both teams," the former Los Angeles Lakers guard and 14-time All-Star told Reuters. "It's just a remarkable effort by both teams to get here again."

Both teams tweaked their rosters since last year's epic series, won by Miami in seven games. The big question, however, is how the memory of last year's late-game meltdown by the Spurs in Game Six will be played out.

The Heat overcame a title-busting, five-point deficit in the final 28 seconds of regulation and held on in Game Seven at home to win their second straight championship.

"We have four more (games) to win," San Antonio forward Tim Duncan said Saturday, seconds after the Spurs defeated Oklahoma City to win the Western Conference. "We'll do it this time."

The series begins Thursday in San Antonio in a 2-2-1-1-1 format, where the Spurs, unlike a year ago, have the home-court advantage, based on their NBA-best 62-20 regular-season record.

Miami, once again led by the so-called Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, went 54-28 this season, two games behind Indiana in the East. But the Heat beat the Pacers in six games to reach the championship round and are playing their best ball of the year.

A four-time NBA MVP, James averaged 27.1 points this year and Wade, who was hobbled in last year's playoffs but is now healthy, chipped in 18.7. James, the MVP of the finals the last two years, said of the Spurs: "They wanted us, they got us.   Continued...

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) loses the ball during a shot attempt against San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (4) during the fourth quarter in game six of the Western Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports