Possibly the last thing one would expect before the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs begin their NBA Finals series would be even a “light” version of the antics the Heat went through with the Indiana Pacers and their unhinged guard Lance Stephenson.
No, no Spur has blown in LeBron James’ ear, as Stephenson did in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and none has stepped up to brush James in the face, as Stephenson did to James in Game 6.
And the pre-game rhetoric has not come up to the level of Stephenson’s comments that his trash talking early in the series, won by the Heat in six games, was getting “into the head” of the Heat’s superstar.
According to a report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and some other outlets, Duncan closed out a televised interview by vowing to avenge the Spurs’ loss to the Heat in last year’s Finals.
“We’ll do it this time,” he said.
After the Spurs finished off the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games to win the West, Duncan commented on the Finals rematch.
“We’re happy to have another opportunity at it,” the report quoted him. “We’re happy it’s the Heat again.”
James responded after the Heat’s Monday practice.
“They don’t like us. They don’t," James said. “I can sense it from Timmy’s comments over the last couple of days.”
“They wanted this. They wanted us. And we’ll be ready for the challenge.”
Not exactly fire-and-brimstone stuff, but a bit out-of-character for the usually reticent Spurs, especially Duncan. James’ teammate, Chris Bosh, welcomed it.
“It’s a little different,” Bosh said in the Sun-Sentinel’s report. “But we love it, for extra motivation. We’re coming into this thing without home court this year. We know nobody’s going to hand anything to us, and it’s never easy.
“So, with that said, were glad to get a little bit of extra added motivation for ourselves and our team. And any time that we’re not focusing, we could just think back to that quote and it will lock us back in.”