In most cases, players avoid talking directly about their opponent when about to compete at the game’s highest level for its greatest prize.
But given the situation facing Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs, who are headed for a rematch of last year’s epic Finals against the Heat that took all seven games to be decided, you can understand his exuberance.
“We’re happy to be back here this year, we’re happy to have another opportunity at it,” Duncan said after the Spurs eliminated the Thunder on Saturday. “We’re happy that it’s the Heat again. We’ll be ready for them. We’ve got some experience, obviously, from last year against them, and we’ll go back and look at some film. And we’ve got that bad taste in our mouths still. Hopefully, we’ll be ready to take it this time.”
The Spurs, of course, feel like they should have won it last year.
San Antonio led by five with 28 seconds remaining in Game 6, and it seemed like the championship was about to be theirs — Heat fans were headed for the exits, and the infamous yellow rope had been brought out to prepare for the trophy presentation.
But we all remember what happened next. Miami staged a furious comeback, Ray Allen hit one of the greatest shots in NBA history, and the Heat went on to win that game in overtime, and the series in Game 7.
The Finals loss was as painful as they come for the Spurs, and they’ve overcome that disappointment admirably by methodically marching back to this point to have a rare shot at redemption — one that Duncan had no problem being excited about as soon as the reality of a rematch with the Heat began to set in.