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Heat in familiar territory against Spurs

LeBron James goes in for a dunk for two of his game-high 35 points in the Heat's win over the Spurs Sunday night.
LeBron James goes in for a dunk for two of his game-high 35 points in the Heat's win over the Spurs Sunday night.Photo by Pool/Getty Images

With their 98-96 victory over San Antonio in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat find themselves in a very familiar position.

For a third straight year, they are 1-1 after the first two games of the championship series.

But there is a twist this time.

For the first time since 1984, the Finals are being played on a 2-2-1-1-1 format instead of the 2-3-2 format of the last 30 years.

That means the Heat will have only two games at home, starting with Tuesday’s contest in AmericanAirlines Arena (9 p.m., EDT, ABC), before returning to San Antonio for Game 5.

That’s a huge difference from 2012, when they split the first two games with the Thunder in Oklahoma City and then won the next three all on their home floor.

Last year against the Spurs they were 1-1 after the two games played in Miami. They lost Game 3 in ATT&T Center, but then assured themselves of a return home by winning Game 4 in San Antonio. The Spurs won Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead, but the Heat wrapped up the title by winning Games 6 and 7 in Miami.

So though their win over the Spurs gave the Heat homecourt advantage in the series, it is only a tenuous hold. The Spurs can regain that edge by winning one of the next two in Miami. The series then would be even at 2-2 with two of the final three potential games in San Antonio.

The Heat went 8-0 at home in the Eastern Conference playoffs in sweeping Charlotte in four games and beating Brooklyn in five and Indiana in six.

Game 4 will be Thursday night in Miami, Game 5 Sunday in San Antonio.