Welcome to the Daily NBA Fix for Sunday, June 1, the morning after the San Antonio Spurs gave us our first NBA Finals rematch in 16 years by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Last year, the Miami Heat beat the Spurs in a thrilling seven-game NBA Finals, a series where the Spurs were a couple of missed free throws and a late Ray Allen 3-pointer in regulation away from capturing the title in Game 6.
The Spurs—the NBA’s best team this season at 62-20—will have something they didn’t have last season against the Heat. Last year, Miami had home-court advantage in the Finals and played Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 at American Airlines Arena.
This year, the Finals will begin at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, where the Spurs were 32-9 in the regular season and are 9-1 in the playoffs.
Of course, the Spurs were also the best road team in the NBA at 30-11, but they are only 3-5 on the road in the postseason.
Miami was also 32-9 at home, but just 22-19 away from South Beach. The Heat are 4-3 on the road in the playoffs this season and a perfect 8-0 at home.
This will be the 13th NBA Finals rematch. So what can we glean from the first 12?
In the previous 12 rematches, the team that won the first time also won the next year six times. The decision was reversed from the following season on the other six occasions. So history calls it a coin flip.
Here are the six times the same team won both years:
1952-1953 Minneapolis Lakers over New York Knicks
1960-1961 Boston Celtics over St. Louis Hawks
1962-1963 Boston Celtics over Los Angeles Lakers
1965-1966 Boston Celtics over Los Angeles Lakers
1968-1969 Boston Celtics over Los Angeles Lakers
1997-1998 Chicago Bulls over Utah Jazz
Conversely, here are the six splits:
1957 Boston Celtics over St. Louis Hawks
1958 St. Louis Hawks over Boston Celtics
1972 Los Angeles Lakers over New York Knicks
1973 New York Knicks over Los Angeles Lakers
1978 Washington Bullets over Seattle SuperSonics
1979 Seattle SuperSonics over Washington Bullets
1982 Los Angeles Lakers over Philadelphia 76ers
1983 Philadelphia 76ers over Los Angeles Lakers
1984 Boston Celtics over Los Angeles Lakers
1985 Los Angeles Lakers over Boston Celtics
1988 Los Angeles Lakers over Detroit Pistons
1989 Detroit Pistons over Los Angeles Lakers
In the instances where the two teams split, there was only one in which there was a major addition by one of the teams. In 1983, the 76ers added NBA MVP Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets as a veteran free agent and reversed their fortunes from the previous season against the Lakers in the Finals.
It’s worth pointing out that in 1988, Detroit’s Isiah Thomas tried to play through a severe ankle sprain and in 1989, the Lakers didn’t have starting shooting guard Byron Scott for the Finals because of a hamstring injury and Magic Johnson wound up sitting out Game 4 of the four-game sweep with a hamstring problem of his own.
In any event, the Spurs and Heat tip off the NBA Finals Thursday night and if last year is any indication, we should be in for a good one.
The Daily NBA Fix will focus on the happenings around the Association. Here are some highlights from Saturday’s action: