It might seem hard to believe, given that the Wisconsin Badgers played themselves into and out of the NCAA Final Four a full two months ago, but basketball season has pressed on. And on. And on.
The NBA Finals commence tonight, and if you're one of those fair-minded folks who haven't put away winter sports just because it's June, your patience could be rewarded. The Miami Heat meet the San Antonio Spurs in what promises to be one of the most intriguing championship series in years.
Befitting a team that's won the last two league titles, Miami spent much of the regular season looking listless and bored, biding its time while star guard Dwyane Wade recovered from injury. San Antonio, meanwhile, compiled the best record in the NBA with its usual efficiency while hoping for a finals rematch against the Heat. The Spurs appeared to have last year's series in hand until squandering a five-point lead in the last 30 seconds of Game 6 -- Heat guard Ray Allen hit a scrambling three-pointer to force overtime, and San Antonio promptly vanished.
For a few months, at least. The Spurs have won four championships and haven't missed the playoffs since coach Gregg Popovich and center Tim Duncan joined forces in 1997, so no one expected them to stay down for long, and the memory of last year's finals loss does seem to have fueled San Antonio this season. "We've got that bad taste in our mouths still," Duncan says. "We'll do it this time."
Vegas oddsmakers agree, even though the Heat are in the finals for the fourth straight year, are playing for their third consecutive championship, and feature the best player on Earth, LeBron James. Wade is back in form as well, restoring Miami as owners of the NBA's best one-two punch.
San Antonio, however, is the deeper team. Spurs in seven.