We're here again.
The San Antonio Spurs blew out the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to go up 2-1 in the series. Sound familiar? You might recall that this is exactly how it played out in the 2013 Finals between these two teams. So this is a rematch from last year in every possible way, right?
Yes, on the surface, it looks like the 2014 Finals is playing out just like it did in 2013. The cast of characters hasn't changed much, and the sequencing is identical. Last year the Spurs took Game 1, dropped Game 2 and then routed the Heat in Game 3.
But this is not déjà vu all over again. Peel back the top layer, and this series looks a whole lot different than it did last season. This is the rematch that never was. For starters, the Spurs have home-court advantage this time around, and the traditional 2-3-2 format in the Finals is no longer. Normally, the team with home-court advantage has two opportunities at the end of the series to close out at home. But the Finals format has changed to a 2-2-1-1-1 setup, altering the dynamic a bit.
But beyond the format, there are plenty of reasons why 2014 is not 2013. Here are three of them.