miami heat

No more sitting out stars, and for the San Antonio Spurs, no more sitting around.

Finally, the NBA Finals matchup is set, and the Miami Heat will either win a second straight championship or the Spurs will go a perfect 5 for 5 in the title round while denying LeBron James a ring for the second time.

The Heat earned their third consecutive Eastern Conference title on Monday night, beating the Indiana Pacers 99-76 in Game 7 of their series. So it’s Heat vs. Spurs for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, a series that will begin Thursday in Miami, on the same floor where the Heat and James finished off Oklahoma City to win last season’s title.

Miami is looking for its third championship, San Antonio its fifth. And for James, it’s a chance to erase a memory that has stung him for six years.

His first trip to the finals came when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007, and it was ugly - the Spurs winning in a four-game sweep for what was their fourth title. San Antonio has not won the West since, so maybe it’s fitting that its return comes against James, albeit with the now four-time MVP in a different uniform.

”Obviously, I needed more,” James said. ”Our team, we were really good, but we weren’t great. And that was a great team. We lost to a better team. So I understand that we needed more. We continued to get better over the years, but we never got to that level.”

Reported by Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press