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3 Things You Need To Know About The NBA Finals
We won't dwell on the obvious. If you care about basketball at all, you know by now that Game 1 of the NBA finals is set for Thursday night in Miami, where the hometown Heat will play the San Antonio Spurs.
Time: 9 p.m. ET.
Led by LeBron James, Miami is defending its 2012 championship. Led by Tim Duncan, San Antonio is looking to win its fifth title.
It's a best-of-seven series.
With those basics out of the way, let's zero in on three things you might want to know if some hoops nut corners you in conversation:
-- Tony Parker's "Cat Quickness." On Morning Edition, NPR's Tom Goldman waxed eloquently about how basketball purists swoon over the Spurs' style. The players share the ball, move quickly and shoot well. They play "team basketball," something that's not seen a lot these days in the star-dominated NBA. But along with Duncan, the big man who anchors the team, there is a Spur to watch. Tom says that guard Tony Parker's "great shot and cat quickness" make him a "defense-shredding machine."
-- LeBron James' Quest For Revenge. In his first trip to the finals, as a Cleveland Cavalier in 2007, James watched the Spurs celebrate "on our home floor" after San Antonio won the championship. "I have something in me that they took in '07," he told reporters Wednesday. "I won't forget that. You shouldn't as a competitor. You should never forget that." With the Heat, James lost again in his second trip to the finals — in 2011. "I've lost enough," he also said Wednesday. "I don't need any more fuel from losing. I've lost two finals, so I don't need any more fuel from losing the finals."
-- "Old Guys Rule." Perhaps this aging blogger is biased, but this entry in Vibe's "9 Things To Know Before Making Your Pick" story struck a chord: "Tim Duncan and Ray Allen [of the Heat] will both play huge roles in this series, both at the age of 37. Allen was huge in Game 7 against Indiana, and Duncan has been huge all season. The two veterans will be big."
The Spur who gets the daunting assignment of guarding James is 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard, a second-year player from Los Angeles. You may hear his name a lot — either because he has some success stopping the league's best player or because he gets steamrolled by James. Listen closely to whether ABC's broadcasting team gets Leonard's first name right. According to ESPN's Rick Reilly, it's pronounced "Kuh-why."