Both of the last two NBA champions are hoping to make a run at another title this spring. But first, the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs need to get healthy.
It's unclear which of the clubs' banged-up stars will be in the lineup when they meet Friday night in San Antonio, but both the Celtics and Spurs are in need of a victory as they try to hold onto second place in their respective conferences.
San Antonio's Manu Ginobili and Boston's Kevin Garnett are the biggest names to miss considerable time recently for the two teams, with Ginobili out for the last 16 games with an ankle problem and Garnett missing the last 13 with a knee strain.
But they're hardly alone on the injured list. The Celtics were also without Ray Allen, Leon Powe, Brian Scalabrine and Tony Allen for Wednesday night's 112-108 overtime win over Miami, and Tim Duncan rested his knees for the Spurs during their 93-86 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday night.
While Duncan should return Friday and Ginobili is likely to remain out, it's unclear whether the Celtics will have Garnett or Ray Allen, who is dealing with a hyperextended elbow.
Paul Pierce picked up the slack for his absent All-Star teammates against the Dwyane Wade-less Heat, scoring 36 points - including 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime - as the Celtics avoided a third straight loss and clinched the Atlantic Division.
Rajon Rondo, who missed two games last week with a sprained ankle, added 27 points and 10 assists, while Glen Davis returned from a four-game absence due to a similar injury.
"We know that we are injured," Pierce said, "but just to get back on the winning mind-frame is big for us."
The Celtics (51-18) are 7-6 since Garnett's injury, fading from contention for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and struggling to hold off Orlando for the No. 2 spot, with a half-game separating the teams.