The San Antonio Spurs are playing in the NBA Finals for the fourth time in the last 11 seasons, but also the first time in six seasons.
For a couple of years now, at least, many observers thought San Antonio - this core group of Spurs - was past its prime, too old to make another championship run.
But with a little help from elsewhere - a terrible season by the Lakers, an injury to Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook - and some brilliant play from Tony Parker, San Antonio is once again playing for all the marbles.
This NBA Finals series begins Thursday night with Game 1 in Miami (9 pm ET, ABC). In early Game 1 betting, the Spurs were dogged by six points; they were also getting +185 to win this Finals series, with Miami chalked at -215.
Interestingly, nearly 64% of the early betting action was on the underdog Spurs and almost the same percentage was backing the OVER 188.5. In the past 25 meetings of these teams, the UNDER has prevailed 20 times!
Can the Spurs piece together four more victories and knock off the defending league champion Heat? Here's a few reasons why we believe that's entirely possible (along with a list of some of the more interesting NBA Finals prop odds).
Each team has its Big Three, but San Antonio's has been together longer, and has had more success, winning three titles with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. This Spring Duncan has been his usual steady self in these playoffs, and while Ginobili has slumped a bit he's still capable of making a impact.
Parker, meanwhile, has been super; he just threw in 37 points as San Antonio finished off Memphis in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals last Monday.
The Spurs are also unfazed when playing big games on the road; they're 6-1 both SU and ATS away from home in these playoffs.
And San Antonio, after sweeping Memphis in four games in the West Finals, will open this series on 10 days rest. They have lost four straight to Miami, going 1-3 ATS, according to the Odds Shark NBA database.
As for San Antonio's championship series opponent, Miami, for all its star power, is vulnerable. Yes, the Heat swept Milwaukee in four games in the first round of these playoffs, but the Bucks didn't even deserve to be in the playoffs. Miami then lost the opener of its series against an undermanned Chicago team, before winning the next four.
And the Heat just got taken to seven games by an Indiana Pacers team that finished 15 games behind them in the W/L standings this season.
As LeBron goes, so goes Miami. But that's not the case with the Spurs, who can absorb middlin' performances from one or two of their Big Three and still win.
Finally, there's Coach Pop, who's probably the best in the business at the moment dealing with both on-court situations and keeping the long-term in mind. Plus, he gives great in-game interviews.
The Spurs and Heat will play Game 2 of this NBA championship series Sunday night in Miami, before moving to Alamo City for Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, 5 next Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Games 6 and 7 would be played back in South Florida.