Twenty-eight teams have fallen short, and for the second straight season, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs remain as the NBA’s last standing. This Finals rematch is the league’s first since Bulls-Jazz in 1997 and 1998.
It’s also the series you need in your life, whether you even knew it or not. Ahead, we break down why.
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1. Manu's Redemption Starts Now
The basketball world has forgiven poor Manu Ginobili for his abomination of a Finals last year, but entering this year’s heavyweight bout, it’s certainly a dark cloud over the Argentinian’s bald-spotted head. Ginobili closed out his 2013 season by turning over the ball more than 22 times in the seven-game series with Miami, and shooting only 25% from downtown. By Game 7, Manu was difficult to watch, looking every day of his 35 years, and doing essentially nothing to help San Antonio knock off the defending champs.
With another year of mileage on him, Manu will have the chance to right last year’s wrongs against the Heat. He’s drained 38% of his threes this postseason, averaging 14 points, four assists and three boards while turning the ball over less frequently than any of his playoffs since 2007.1 of 8
Tim Duncan vs. Fashuns
It’s become almost painful to witness at this point. Tim Duncan is arguably the best power forward of all time and is playing in one of the more impressive menswear eras in recent memory.
But the man cannot put together an outfit without looking like your dad in 1997.
A rematch with the Heat will juxtapose Duncan against the various South Beach fashion enthusiasts, including Bron, Wade, Bosh—hell, even Michael Beasley’s in on this.
Arena arrival shots will be a battle between doing too much vs. IDGAF and it will be magical.
3. It's going to make the 2015 Finals that much betterLast year, Oklahoma City received an instant excuse for missing out on the Finals when Russell Westbrook went down with his knee injury. With no true offensive gameplan, the Thunder’s isolation tries with Kevin Durant weren’t enough to get past the Memphis Grizzlies in the Conference Semis.This year, there is no excuse. Westbrook was healthy, Ibaka returned to the floor, the surrounding cast had sufficient talent. The Thunder failed in large part due to Scott Brooks’ shortcomings as head coach. And this year’s early ouster may finally lead to his canning.This isn’t to openly advocate for a man to lose his job—except it kind of is. With Brooks manning the controls, OKC’s offense may have been the most predictable in the league. Without him, Durant and the Thunder could evolve to keep pace in the upwardly mobile Western Conference, where Portland, Houston and Golden State will continue to challenge. That’ll only make Durant’s squad better when he gets back to the Finals.3 of 8
4. It keeps the wack ass Pacers away from the Finals.
Yes, they finished as the East’s best team but Indiana was authentic, pure, unadulterated basura over the last three months of the year and still limped into the top spot—which only tells you how brutal the East really was. They closed the season 16-15 over their last 31, and watching them try to score was less pleasant than—everything. It was less pleasant than everything.
A Pacers appearance in this year’s Finals would’ve been an aesthetic catastrophe. If you think otherwise for one second, just remember how Roy Hibbert looked over the last two months.
5. It's a true clash of basketball ideologies
Start with the coaching: It’s Gregg Popovich, the old-school savant vs. Erik Spoelstra, the new-wave kid-genius with a background in video scouting. They both predicate their offenses on spacing the floor but consider Miami’s suffocating, cut-throat defense and viciously attacking offense against the perfectly patient Spurs. Take the San Antonio’s Big Three—none of whom are under the age of 31—and put it against the Miami trio, older now, but still mostly near its apex. Miami and San Antonio trying to beat each other is simply fascinating to take in.
There’s often what-if speculation about present-day stars matching up against legends of old. If you’re into that debate, this is as close as reality can give you.5 of 8
6. You're going to tweet about it. A lot.
Don’t try and kid yourself. You’re gonna throw as much shade at LeBron (his headband, the flops) as you possibly can in 140 characters. The Bosh reaction GIFs will fly across each of your Tweetdeck columns as you weep and howl at the same damn time. You’ll tweet something French in all caps whenever Tony Parker does a Tony Parker thing. You might compare Boris Diaw to a human milk shake, and if Shane Battier manages to sneak into a game, you’ll disregard all inklings of ethics and cordiality.
You may shout unthinkable words when an iffy call goes LeBron’s way. The Spurs may bore you to death with their textbook execution. Just tweet through it.6 of 8
7. More Pop interviews
One of the more entertaining—or intrusive, depending on your side of the fence—nuances of the NBA in 2014 is in-game coach interviews. Oftentimes you’ll hear a coach offer up generic coachspeak. If you’re lucky, you may get a quick, intuitive note to think about for a few seconds. But not Pop. Nah. Certainly not Pop.
Popovich literally gives you nothing. Which is certainly better than a bland loop of every other in-game interview, and probably even more entertaining than an in-depth game analysis. What may come off as blatant disrespect for a reporter is probably more playful than it is malicious. Pop’s been doing this a long time. He’s developed relationships with many media members over his 18 NBA years, so feel free to laugh at the old, crusty white dude shitting on journalism.7 of 8
8. They're unequivocally the two best teams
The NBA opted for the current playoff format—four best-of-seven series—to ensure an optimal Finals matchup. Some occasionally poke through the cracks, but the system is designed for the truly better team to prevail. Using this logic, these playoffs have been a complete success.
If you’re of the school that the championship series should feature the league’s best team from each side, you probably don’t have any complaints. Miami slayed Indiana yet again, while the Spurs took down a 59-win Thunder team. We get to watch the West’s most dominant team try to dethrone LeBron James and the two-time defending champs.
As a fan of basketball, how could you want to see anything else?8 of 8