he has taken No. 10
When last seasons NBA Finals ended, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was all smiles. Sergei Bobrovsky Blue Jackets Jersey Authentic . For a few minutes, that is. Popovichs first order of business after the seasons final buzzer sounded in Miami was to go and embrace Erik Spoelstra, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, giving everyone hearty hugs and offering genuine words of congratulations after the Heat topped his Spurs in Game 7 of one of the most dramatic, thrilling championship series in league history. The pain of losing started setting in later, and lasted for months. But now, the dream scenario for San Antonio has arrived. Starting Thursday, the Spurs get a rematch in the NBA Finals against the only team to ever beat them in a championship series. San Antonio will be holding home-court advantage, so if another Game 7 awaits, the Spurs will have the decided edge this time around. If that wasnt enough, the Spurs even got basically five full days between games to get healthy and prepare. It is, without question, everything the Spurs could have wanted. "We know what were going against," said Spurs guard Tony Parker, who added that he has great respect for what the Heat have done in this four-year run. "Its a great challenge." There are so many things that would seem like a distinct San Antonio advantage right now. First, while everyones better at home, the Spurs dominate in San Antonio, winning 103 times in their last 123 games there. Over the past four seasons, the Spurs are also 25-5 when having three or more days between games. Maybe most importantly, having nearly a week between the end of the Western Conference finals and the start of the NBA Finals gives Parker plenty of time to get his ailing left ankle ready to go for Game 1. "Ill do my best," said Parker, who didnt practice Tuesday but is hoping to play in the series opener, as the Heat expect he will. This is San Antonios sixth trip to the NBA Finals. The Spurs won it all in 1999, 2003, 2005 and 2007, the last title in that run coming when San Antonio swept a Cleveland team that featured a young LeBron James making his debut on the leagues biggest stage. James is no finals apprentice anymore. Hes been to the title round three times since, winning the last two. And James is quick to point out that the Spurs arent the only team fueled by hunger in this championship round. "Both teams have motivating factors," James said. "They have a motivating factor. We have our own." Losing the finals is one thing. Losing the way the Spurs did last June, thats something else. Forget Game 7 for a moment. Game 6 will be replayed for as long as there are replays, unforgettable for both how the Heat rallied and how the Spurs collapsed. A 10-point lead going into the fourth quarter was erased, in part because Mike Miller scored three points on one shot while wearing one shoe. And a five-point lead with 28.2 seconds left, well, you know the rest. Manu Ginobili misses a free throw. James makes a 3-pointer. Kawhi Leonard makes one of two free throws. James misses a 3-pointer. Chris Bosh out jumps Ginobili for the rebound. Ray Allen started backpedaling to the right corner, hoping for a chance. ABCs Mike Breen described what happened next like this: "Rebound Bosh ... back out to Allen ... his 3-pointer ... BANG!!! Tie game!" The Heat went on to win in overtime that night, then found a way to win Game 7 and the title, 95-88. When this season began, Popovich started camp by showing his team Games 6 and 7, painful as it was. "I try to learn something every game I watch," Popovich said. "Thats what we do." And while there were plenty of teams that looked like contenders this season, neither club was surprised that the end result is the first NBA Finals rematch since 1998. "We got wined and dined with some of the other teams that kind of popped up and showed greatness throughout the year," Allen said. "The Clippers looked great. OKC, they had their issues and then they popped up. Memphis looked good at the end of the year. Indiana was always hovering. But if you go back to the beginning of the year, most people said the same thing. Pop knew how to manage his team to get to this point. Same thing with us." In other words, maybe Spurs-Heat II was meant to be. "It was," Allen said. ___ Associated Press Writer Raul Dominguez in San Antonio contributed to this story Matt Calvert Blue Jackets Jersey . Chan captured two silver medals at last months Sochi Winter Games — mens singles and the inaugural team event. But he doesnt have the urge to resume training to defend his world title when the event is held in Saitama, Japan, later this month. Nick Foligno Blue Jackets Jersey Authentic . Brooks replaces right-hander Yordano Ventura, who left his last outing with a sore elbow. Ventura is expected to miss one start. Brooks has made one relief appearance for the Royals this season, allowing six runs in two innings in a May 3 loss to Detroit. http://www.hockeybluejacketsauthority.com/ . -- Caris LeVert had 14 points and a career-high 11 rebounds for his first career double-double, and No.MONTREAL - While his former club celebrated a South American championship, midfielder Ignacio Piatti was getting his first look at his new team: the Montreal Impact.The long-awaited designated player from Argentina worked out with the Impact for the first time on Thursday, a day after his old club, San Lorenzo, pulled off a victory without him over Uruguayan side Nacional Asuncion in the Copa Libertadores final.Im very happy for San Lorenzo, but now Im thinking about the Impact, the 29-year-old said through an interpreter. Ill do everything I can to help this team.Piatti signed with Montreal on July 2, but the Impact agreed to let him stay for San Lorenzos climb through the final stages of the Copa Libertadores, the South American champions league.However, the sports governing body FIFA turned down his request to stay with Pope Franciss favourite team beyond the Aug. 8 close of the international transfer window. So Piatti played in the first leg of the final last week, but was not allowed to play in the return leg in Buenos Aires.Coach Frank Klopas confirmed that Piatti signed a three and a half year deal with the Impact.The midfielders skill and his ability to play on the left wing or in the middle will be welcome on a team that sits last in Major League Soccer at 3-14-5.But how much he can help this season remains to be seen. Newcomers to MLS tend to need a half-season to adjust to the travel and the physical style of play. Klopas called him a player the team can build around in the next few seasons.He will likely see some action in Montreals home game Saturday against the Chicago Fire and is ready to accompany the side to El Salvador next Wednesday for a CONCACAF Champions League game against CD FAS.I think the adaptation is not going to be a problem, said Piatti. I know the team is having a bad season. Im ready for the challenge.Piatti sent a chill through Impact fans hearts last week when he told an Argentine reporter he hoped eventually to play with an American MLS team like New York or Miami. On his arrival on Wednesday, he said his words had been taken out of conttext and that he was glad to be in Montreal. Ryan Murray Blue Jackets Jersey. Having a new player from a winning program may help boost spirits on the Impact, who have lost seven league games in a row.Any time you bring in a quality player like that it lifts everybody on the team, said Klopas. You could sense a bit of that (at practice).But we have to understand its one player. Hell make us better, but our whole team has to lift our game a bit.The five-foot-11 Piatti, who speaks Spanish and Italian, had been on the Impacts radar for two years. An attacking midfielder, he played for St. Etienne in France and Lecce in Italy before returning to Argentina in 2012 with San Lorenzo, where he scored 12 goals in 54 matches.Just having him on the field with the ball, with his ability to beat players and put the opposing team under pressure, can help us a lot, said Klopas. Theres a period of adaptation for every player, but he brings a lot of quality and I think instantly hes going to add a lot to our team.His new teammates liked what they saw of Piatti in practice at Saputo Stadium. He played mostly on the left side during a scrimmage, in the position normally held by fellow Argentine Andres Romero. It would not be a surprise if Piatti subbed in for Romero, or vice versa, against the Fire.Im very happy hes finally here, said defender Hassoun Camara. Its been a long time that we were expecting him.But we know he doesnt have to be the hero. We dont have to put a lot of pressure on him. Hes here to help the team.He is the teams second DP along with 38-year-old striker Marco Di Vaio, who is expected to leave at the end of the season. Another DP, midfielder Hernan Bernardello, left last month to join Mexican club Cruz Azul.Di Vaio said hes looking forward to having a talented midfield player to help create offence. He said Piattis personality and confidence showed in the fact that he has taken No. 10, which is normally reserved for a teams offensive leader and best attacking midfielder.Everyone in Montreal has been waiting for a number 10, said Di Vaio. I hope he can do something big for us. 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