The best vs. the best.
As it should be.
San Antonio, the team with the league’s best record, will meet the defending champion Miami Heat, the team with arguably the best player (no offense, Kevin Durant), in an epic rematch from the 2013 NBA Finals.
Here are five things to look for in the best-of-seven 2014 NBA Finals, which begin Thursday in San Antonio:
Will Tony Parker be able to perform at his optimum level?
The Spurs’ All-Star point guard is not at his best after leaving the final game of the Western Conference Finals against Oklahoma City when he aggravated his sprained left ankle. With so much at stake, Parker will try to play. How effective he’ll be might determine who wins this series. Especially because, as far as the Spurs are concerned, Parker is the floor general.
Can the Heat three-peat?
In 2010, LeBron James said the Heat would win “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven’’ NBA championships. Right now, the Heat is trying to become the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-02) to win three in a row. It’s a tall task, but Miami has the roster to do it and is just one series away.
Will lack of playoff competition in the East haunt the Heat?
After running roughshod through weak Eastern Conference playoff foes Charlotte, Brooklyn and Indiana, this will be the Heat’s toughest test of the postseason. Remember, Charlotte All-Star forward Al Jefferson played against Miami despite an injury, and Brooklyn was without injured All-Star center Brook Lopez when it faced the Heat.
Can veteran Tim Duncan continue to deliver for the Spurs?
The Spurs’ ageless wonder continues to surprise a lot of folks, dialing up energy from years past to still be a proficient player. In last year’s Finals, Duncan produced 30 points and 17 rebounds in Game 6 and 24 points, 12 rebounds and four steals in Game 7.
Which role player will make the biggest impact?
No one ever knows what a role player will produce. Most of them play well at home and terrible on the road, which is still a mystery. Whether it’s Danny Green, Boris Diaw or Patty Mills for the Spurs, or Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole for the Heat, there’s a good bet one or two of these players will play a major role in which team wins the NBA title.