Last year's NBA Finals featured some of the best basketball the league's biggest stage has ever seen. It's no surprise that the league decided to prominently feature both of the rematches between the two Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs in the 2013-2014 season.
The first matchup between the two comes on one of the NBA's biggest days, for marketing purposes: Sunday, Jan. 26, the first Sunday when there's no NFL game preventing hoops from being the biggest show. (Unless you count the Pro Bowl.) The Heat host the Spurs that day at 1 p.m., a day which also features Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks facing Kobe Bryant and the Lakers as well as Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett return to Boston to play the Celtics with their new team, the Brooklyn Nets.
The return matchup of the two Finals squads also gets marquee billing: the Heat's March 6 trip to the AT&T Center will be the first in a TNT Thursday night double-header, with both teams presumably vying to stay close to the top of their conference with about a month left in the year.
The Heat won last year for the second straight season, but nobody will forget the brilliant performances put on by the Spurs -- or the fact that they were within seconds of winning the title before three pointers by LeBron James and Ray Allen sent Game 6 to overtime. Few thought anybody could contend with Miami, and San Antonio did, pushing them to the very brink before bowing out in seven games.
The Spurs will be seeking their revenge, but the hugs exchanged moments after the Finals ended showed the intense mutual between the league's reigning dynasty and one of its predecessors.
Both squads retain almost exactly the same lineup: the Heat added Greg Oden, and the Spurs lost Gary Neal and added Marco Belinelli, but for the most part, we're dealing with identical rosters returning. So, yes, we should expect a pair of fun ones.