After several delays, Spurs and Heat meet on Finals stage – UMUSEKE – News indeed
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It’s almost as if the two coaches of these juggernaut squads had a premonition early on that this day would come and no secrets would be shared before it’s time.

Dwyane Wade Vs Manu Ginobili

The shenanigans started on Nov. 29 with the Spurs in Miami for a nationally televised showdown on TNT. For San Antonio, it was the last of a six-game, nine-day trek through the Eastern Conference that included a game the night before in Orlando.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, the great tactician and minutes manager, decided not only to give his Big Three — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — plus starting shooting guard Danny Green the night off.

So, he put them on a plane bound for San Antone where they could watch the game from the comfort of their couches.

Popovich’s decision so incensed NBA commissioner David Stern that he immediately apologized to fans (and television sponsors) through a statement and promised swift and severe punishment. Stern lowered the boom, hammering the Spurs organization with a $250,000 fine.

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Fast forward to March 31 at San Antonio. The Heat came to town with their 27-game win streak halted two games earlier at Chicago and an insurmountable East lead. So coach Erik Spoelstra, claiming LeBron James had a hamstring strain and ankle sprains bothered Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers, rolled out the B team.

For the record, the Heat won both of those infuriatingly meaningless games.

“It’s crazy that it worked out this way, that we’re both in The Finals,” Wade said.

The good news, as this anticipated Finals matchup is set to tip off Thursday night in Miami (9 ET, ABC), is neither side has more than nagging injuries. That means the full rosters are ready to roll no matter how unfamiliar with one another they might be.

Spurs Arena

During the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, the Spurs and Heat played just once, on Jan. 17. Wade was out with a sprained ankle and the Spurs started Richard Jefferson (no longer with the team) and DeJuan Blair (logged 14 total minutes in the last two rounds). Miami won 120-98.

To add to the absurdity, in 2010-11, the first season of Miami’s Big Three, the Spurs drilled the Heat in San Antonio on March 4, 125-95. Ten days later in Miami, the Spurs got squashed by the Heat, 110-80.

Does it get any stranger than that for two teams dating back three seasons?

“Not from the standpoint of us playing each other throughout the year,” Wade said. “I think from the standpoint of both sides have great coaches, a great coaching staff, they’re going to get their team prepared as well as they can.

Obviously, San Antonio has a system. Obviously, they have certain players that are featured in that system, that have been featured a while, many years for them. That’s not a surprise. But that’s a hell of a team over there.”

James goes back six seasons with the Spurs. Duncan, Parker and Ginobili won their third title together in five seasons in 2007 by sweeping James’ Cavaliers, an otherwise unheralded group James carried to the brink of a title.

Memories of that squad came up as James surprisingly found himself trudging Wade and Chris Bosh through seven games against the Pacers to finally claim a third straight East crown.

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