Heat and Spurs ready to rumble in Finals opener

Wed Jun 4, 2014 6:02pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - Now that the verbal sparring is over, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat are ready to get down to business on Thursday with the opening game of the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

San Antonio power forward Tim Duncan has all-but guaranteed a victory after the team suffered a heartbreaking, seven-game loss to Miami in the finals a year ago.

Heat forward LeBron James knows San Antonio is inspired but doesn't believe that matters much once the game begins.

"They are motivated," James, the finals MVP the last two seasons, told reporters on Wednesday. "I think motivation can only go so far. How much motivation can carry you to a championship, I'm not sure.

"At the end of the day, five, ten guys on the floor, three refs and one basketball. You gotta make plays. I can't shoot the ball and say motivation will make it in.

"I can't sit in the lane and take a charge and say, 'Motivation, let me get this call.'"

Needing just one win for title, the Spurs squandered a five-point lead in the final 28 seconds of regulation in Game Six a year ago and lost 103-100 in overtime. The Heat won Game Seven 95-88, leaving the Spurs deflated, angry and wondering what might have been.

James knows the feeling, having lost in the finals to the Dallas Mavericks three years ago. But, he added, there's nothing more you can do than try your hardest.   Continued...

Jun 4, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) talks with Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) before practice before game one of the 2014 NBA Finals against the San Antonia Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports