When last season's NBA Finals ended, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was all smiles.
For a few minutes, that is.
Popovich's first order of business after the season's final buzzer sounded in Miami was to 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 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 wasn't enough, the Spurs even got basically five full days between games to get healthy and prepare.
There are so many things that would seem like a distinct San Antonio advantage.
First, while everyone's better at home, the Spurs dominate in San Antonio, winning 103 times in their past 123 games there. Over the past four seasons, the Spurs are 25-5 when having three or more days between games.
Maybe most importantly, having nearly a week after the end of the Western Conference Finals gives Spurs guard Tony Parker plenty of time to get his ailing left ankle ready to go for Game 1.
"I'll do my best," said Parker, who didn't practice Tuesday but is hoping to play in the series opener.