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Mitch Kunzler: The Spurs should hope the Pacers advance

Published: Friday, Aug. 28 2015 7:17 a.m. MDT

Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) during the first half of Game 6 of their NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series against the Indiana Pacers Thursday, May 24, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)   (associated press) Miami Heat's LeBron James (6) during the first half of Game 6 of their NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series against the Indiana Pacers Thursday, May 24, 2012, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (associated press)

The Spurs swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals, and will battle either Miami or Indiana in the 2013 NBA Finals.

So naturally, the Spurs are curious to see which team they will be playing for the championship, and in this case, they should also be cheering for a certain team to make it there — that team is the Indiana Pacers.

In the regular season, the Spurs played the Pacers two separate times, and won both games.

In the first matchup, the Spurs had five different players reach double-figures. Both Dejuan Blair and Tim Duncan had double-doubles, and the Spurs forced 19 turnovers. The Spurs won by 22 points.

In the second matchup, the Spurs' stars shined as the San Antonio cruised to a 104-97 win. Both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker finished the game with double-doubles, Duncan with 22 points and 17 rebounds, and Parker with 33 points and 10 assists. The Spurs again forced the Pacers to turn the ball over, as Indiana had 13 giveaways.

San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) looks to pass as Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) defends, during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, May 27, 2013. The Spurs defeated the Grizzlies 93-86 to advance to the NBA finals. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston) (Danny Johnston, AP) San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) looks to pass as Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol (33) defends, during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals NBA basketball playoff series in Memphis, Tenn., Monday, May 27, 2013. The Spurs defeated the Grizzlies 93-86 to advance to the NBA finals. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston) (Danny Johnston, AP)

Pacers center Roy Hibbert struggled in games against San Antonio, shooting only 24 percent in the season series. Despite Indiana's great rebounding and strong defense, the Spurs moved the ball well and got their All-star players going early.

When looking at the regular-season matchups, the Spurs got the upper hand on Indiana by forcing turnovers and getting into a rhythm.

The Spurs also played the Miami Heat twice this season, but the result was quite different. Although San Antonio came close, they came up short down the stretch and ended up losing both games.

In the first matchup, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich sent Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan home instead of to Miami, which resulted in a $250,000 dollar fine. Without their stars, the Spurs still had five different players in double figures, but it wasn't enough. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade scored a combined 42 points on 48 percent shooting as Miami rolled to the 105-100 win. Chris Bosh added 18 points, and Ray Allen added 20. The Heat were lights-out and forced 19 San Antonio turnovers.

Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives between Indiana Pacers guard D.J. Augustin (14) and forward Paul George (24) during the second half of Game 5 in the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals, Thursday, May 30, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky, AP) Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) drives between Indiana Pacers guard D.J. Augustin (14) and forward Paul George (24) during the second half of Game 5 in the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals, Thursday, May 30, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky, AP)

The second matchup was extremely interesting. The Heat did not play James, Wade, or Mario Chalmers, but still managed to win 88-86. The Spurs outscored the Heat 46-18 in the paint, but turned the ball over 17 times, which led to 20 Miami points.

Against Miami, how a Finals matchup would unfold is a bit clouded because both teams' stars never played each other. If past performance is indicative of the future, the game in San Antonio — where Miami sat Wade, Chalmers and James — is not a good omen for the Spurs.

Furthermore, if the Spurs do end up facing off against the Heat, James will be facing his past. The last time San Antonio was in the NBA Finals in 2007, they dueled James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Spurs embarrassed them, sweeping them four games to none. LeBron doubtlessly remembers and would love nothing more than to beat the team that dominated him before.

San Antonio has a better chance against Indiana and are doubtlessly cheering them on in the remainder of the series, but if Miami beats Indiana, the Spurs have this on their side: They have won the title in all of their four NBA Finals appearances.

Indiana Pacers power forward David West (21) goes around Miami Heat forward Chris Andersen (11) during the first half of Game 5 in the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals, Thursday, May 30, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky, AP) Indiana Pacers power forward David West (21) goes around Miami Heat forward Chris Andersen (11) during the first half of Game 5 in the NBA basketball playoffs Eastern Conference finals, Thursday, May 30, 2013, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) (Lynne Sladky, AP)

You can follow Mitch Kunzler on Twitter at: @MitchKunzler

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