RETURN TRIP: A Finals rematch is a rare treat. This will be the first time since 1997 and 1998 two teams will square off in consecutive years. Further adding to the anticipation, it’s the first time in 25 years that two teams played a seven-game Finals and repeated as conference champions the following season.

SUSTAINED EXCELLENCE: Six Finals appearances in 16 seasons and 15 consecutive 50+ win seasons have established the Spurs as the NBA’s model for long-term success. Is this the team’s last run for a championship? When you’re the Spurs, the answer to that question can never be yes.

COACHING UP: Only four coaches in the history of the NBA (Phil Jackson, Red Auerbach, Pat Riley and John Kundla) have won five or more titles. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich hopes to join this elite club in 2014. On the other sideline, Erik Spoelstra is aiming to become only the fourth coach (Auerbach, Kundla and Jackson) in NBA history to win three straight Finals.

DOING IT WITH DEPTH: The Spurs’ depth has been one of the largest reasons for their return to The Finals. San Antonio is the first team since the NBA/ABA merger (1976) to not have a single player average 30 minutes. The Spurs had nine players average at least 8.0 points this season — the first team to hold that distinction and make The Finals since the 1965-66 Celtics. San Antonio’s reserves finished the regular season with the highest scoring average in Spurs franchise history and in this season’s playoffs, the reserves have accounted for a league-high 42.2 points per game.

DIFFERENT PATH, SIMILAR RESULTS: The Spurs and Heat were built in different ways, with different types of players. After Tim Duncan, who was the top pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, the next highest Spurs draft pick is Kawhi Leonard (15th overall pick). Their roster boasts five second-rounders and one undrafted player. The Heat, on the other hand, features six top 10 picks on its star-studded roster.

– NBA News