The Spurs swept James’ Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2007 NBA Finals, so long ago that the winning game plan focused on exploiting James’ weaknesses. Those are nearly impossible to find now, and James essentially warned the Spurs that they shouldn’t bother looking.
The Spurs already know.
Coach Gregg Popovich says James will ‘‘be a lot more of a problem than he was in ‘07, that’s for sure.’’
Tim Duncan told the beaten James minutes after that series that the league would someday belong to him, and he was right. The NBA’s MVP guided Miami to last year’s championship and the league’s best record this season.
Now the Spurs will try to take it back.
Standing in their way along with James is South Dakotan Mike Miller. Miller is battling age (33), a long career (14th season in the NBA) and a body that has not always held up well (has missed more than 200 games).
Even though his minutes have diminished, he always seems to spark the Heat and give them energy. This season, Miller is Miami's fourth-highest paid player at $5.8 million. He has two years left on his contract with salaries of $6.2 million and $6.6 million over the next two years.
The question, however, is whether his body has had enough.
Miller came to Miami in 2010 when the Heat were assembling their dream team with James as the cornerstone. After leading Florida to a national runner-up finish in 2000, the Mitchell native was a first-round draft pick and fifth overall.
He went on to win numerous NBA honors with five different teams.
Miller was the 2001 NBA Rookie of the Year, the 2006 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, and a NBA champion last season. He has played in 902 NBA games, including 71 playoff games, with 564 starts.
His NBA totals: 10,526 points, 1,493 three-pointers, 4,168 rebounds, 2,500 assists, 549 steals, 227 blocked shots, 46 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 77 percent from the line. And another title could allow Miller to go out on top if he so chooses.
NBA Finals on ABC
Game 1: San Antonio at Miami, 8 tonight.
Game 2: San Antonio at Miami, 7 p.m. Sunday.
Game 3: Miami at San Antonio 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Game 4: Miami at San Antonio, 8 p.m. June 13.
Game 5 if needed: Miami at San Antonio, 7 p.m. June 16.
Game 6 if needed: San Antonio at Miami, 8 p.m. June 18.
Game 7 if needed: San Antonio at Miami, 8 p.m. June 20.