An Introduction To The 2014 NBA Finals

Play it again: The Spurs and Heat once more meet in the NBA Finals.

Play it again: The Spurs and Heat once more meet in the NBA Finals.

After an action-packed seven months of hardwood action, the NBA championship will be decided in a best-of-seven NBA Finals series between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.

The series is set to commence on Thursday, with tip-off scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET.

Miami booked a finals berth by defeating the Indiana Pacers in blowout fashion on Friday night, winning the series 4-2 and taking home a fourth straight Eastern Conference championship.

In the process, the Heat became the first team to book a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals since the Boston Celtics did the same between 1984 and 1987.

San Antonio meanwhile punched its own ticket to the finals by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night. It took overtime, but the Spurs managed to do something neither team had achieved through five games; win on the road.

Now the wait for what is surely one of the most anticipated rematches in NBA history.

To get you in the mood, BettingSports.com brings you this brief introduction to the 2014 NBA Finals. Of course, we’ll have coverage throughout the series, which, let’s be honest, we all want to see go seven games.

The Rematch

Seven games was the recipe for an instant classic when the two sides collided in last year’s NBA Finals. Over the next few days, newspapers, television stations, and the internet will be awash with recaps of what went down in a thrilling series. Expect to see that Ray Allen shot time and again.

To keep it brief, the Spurs took a road win in Game 1 which led to the sides flip-flopping wins through five games. Miami then pulled off a stunning Game 6 victory, before taking it all in Game 7.

Home court advantage proved to be pivotal in the series, which utilized the 2-3-2 format, as Miami played a pair of elimination games at home. Thankfully, the powers that be have finally seen the light and this year’s edition of the finals will resume the 2-2-1-1-1 format. That means neither side can play consecutive elimination games at home.

The Spurs earned the right to open the series, and potentially play for of the seven games, at home thanks to a superior record during the regular season. Will that prove to be the difference this year round?

The Road to the Finals

Anybody that witnessed the spectacle that was the 2013 NBA Finals surely can’t be disappointed with a rematch between the Spurs and Heat. Yes, those that watched as their home team fell by the wayside would have preferred to be rooting their own teams on, but as far as epic matchups go, this one should be right up there, and one the neutrals can really get in to.

But a rematch was considered unlikely for much of the season.

This will be the 13th time in history the NBA Finals has featured a rematch between sides, but just the first since the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz locked horns in 1997 and 1998, which itself was the first rematch since the late 80s.

Meanwhile, despite having been the undisputed top franchise since 1999, the Spurs – contestants in five previous NBA Finals series – have never been to back-to-back finals. That changed with Saturday night’s victory in Oklahoma City.

Bookmakers did not expect the Spurs to be heading for the finals either. Online sportsbook Bovada had the Spurs ranked fourth to win the 2014 NBA Championship following last year’s Game 7. That ranking slipped to fifth following the 2013 NBA Draft; to sixth following Dwight Howard’s announcement he would be filling up the middle for the Houston Rockets; and as low as eighth by the time the season tipped off.

Miami, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Indiana, Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets were all preferred to the Spurs on opening night. Yet here we are.

While the Spurs were unfavored, Miami was the wire-to-wire favorite to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. At least, they were until the finals matchup was announced.

San Antonio (-120) is a narrow favorite over Miami (Even) to win the NBA championship now the series is in place.

Finals History

Recent history has been kind to both franchises. Since the arrival of Tim Duncan via the No. 1 overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, San Antonio – which has never missed the playoffs – has been to five NBA Finals, winning four of them.

The Spurs earned victories over the New York Knicks (1999), New Jersey Nets (2003), Detroit Pistons (2005) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2007) before falling to the Heat in seven games a year ago.

NBA_Finals_SASMiami meanwhile has been to four finals series since 2006, winning three. For a relatively young franchise – the Heat entered the league in 1989 – that’s a whole heap of success.

The Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in its first NBA Finals appearance back in 2006 before losing to the same side in 2011. Victories over Oklahoma City and San Antonio have come over the last two seasons.

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Miami will look to become the first team to record a three-peat since the Los Angeles Lakers (2000-02), and only the fourth franchise to achieve that feat. The Lakers, Bulls and Celtics – who once won eight consecutive titles – have all recorded multiple three-peats.

San Antonio is 19-10 all-time in finals games, with an 11-3 home record and an 8-7 record on the road.

Miami is 14-10 all-time in finals games, with a 10-3 home record and a 4-7 road record.

The 2014 NBA Finals

With home-advantage locked up, the Spurs will look to live up to their billing as series favorites, while Miami will be looking to shrug off the underdog role for the first time this postseason.

The Spurs will have to wait to confirm the status of All-Star point guard Tony Parker, who left Saturday’s game with an ankle sprain. Parker’s presence, or lack of it, could be a huge factor moving forward.

The Heat meanwhile will be at full strength after Chris Anderson returned to the lineup on Friday.

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Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs odds for 06/05/2014

San Antonio (-170) is the early favorite over Miami (+150) on the moneyline heading into Game 1, and understandably so.

The Spurs are 5-0 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, while the Heat is 1-3. That’s a trend bettors will want to keep an eye on. The Spurs are also 4-0 in Game 5, although we’re getting ahead of ourselves there.

You can find more odds and trends for Thursday’s series opener at the link above.

Visit Bovada for the latest team props and player props.

Game 1 of the NBA Finals is scheduled to take place at AT&T Center in San Antonio on Thursday (9:00 p.m. ET).

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