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Capsule preview of the NBA Finals matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat

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A capsule look at the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, which begin Thursday night (with playoff stats):

SAN ANTONIO SPURS (62-20, 12-6) vs. MIAMI HEAT (54-28, 12-3).

Starters: Spurs — C Tim Duncan (16.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg), F Tiago Splitter (7.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg) or Matt Bonner (1.2 ppg, 0.6 rpg), F Kawhi Leonard (13.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg), G Danny Green (9.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg), G Tony Parker (17.2 ppg, 4.9 apg). Heat — C Chris Bosh (15.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg), F Rashard Lewis (4.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg), F LeBron James (27.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.0 apg), G Dwyane Wade (18.7 ppg, 4.3 apg), G Mario Chalmers (7.1 ppg, 3.9 apg). Key reserves: Spurs — G Manu Ginobili (14.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.1 apg), F Boris Diaw (10.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg), G Patty Mills (6.5 ppg, 1.4 apg), G Marco Belinelli (5.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg), G Cory Joseph (3.3 ppg, 0.6 apg). Heat — G Ray Allen (9.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg), F Chris Andersen (6.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg), G Norris Cole (5.1 ppg, 1.8 apg), F Shane Battier (3.1 ppg, 0.8 rpg), F Udonis Haslem (3.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg), G James Jones (3.8 ppg, 0.8 rpg).

Season series: Tied, 1-1. Each team won easily on its home floor, with the Spurs handing the Heat their worst loss of the season in a 111-87 victory March 6. Miami won 113-101 on Jan. 26, a game in which the Spurs played without Leonard, Green and Splitter because of injuries and trailed by as many as 29 points. San Antonio shot 50 per cent in both games, though the Heat hit 58 per cent of their shots in their victory.

Story line: The first NBA Finals rematch since 1998 features the Heat going for their third straight championship against a San Antonio team that rebounded from last year's heartbreak to get another shot at them. San Antonio blew a five-point lead in the final half-minute of regulation of Game 6 last year with a chance to clinch, then Miami pulled out Game 7.

Key matchup I: Leonard vs. James. James is the MVP of the last two NBA Finals and had 37 points and 12 rebounds last year in Game 7. Leonard was pretty good, too, with 19 points and 16 rebounds. He's another year better and forced James into a 6-for-18 shooting night in the Spurs' regular-season rout, though James' bigger problem might have been the sleeved jersey he complained about afterward.

Key matchup II: Duncan vs. Bosh. Duncan shot 9 for 13 in each game against Miami this season, scoring 23 points in both. Bosh was just a little bit better, with a pair of 24-point performances, and went 9 for 10 in the Heat victory. The Heat may not need him to be that good, but probably must get something better than his scoreless outing they overcame to win Game 7.

X-factor: Parker's health. The All-Star point guard missed the second half of Game 6 of the Western Conference finals with left ankle soreness. The Spurs were good enough to beat Oklahoma City without him that night, but it would be tough to defeat Miami four times if Parker is too far from his normal form.

Prediction: Spurs in 7.

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