NBA Finals: Heat, Spurs players to watch

The Miami Heat begin defence of their NBA championship against San Antonio on Thursday, with LeBron James fresh off a dominating performance in the East final. Can Kawhi Leonard limit LeBron's effectiveness or will another player take charge in the series?

LeBron James, Tony Parker lead attacks

Fans won’t need a program to identify the starting players in Thursday’s NBA Finals opener in Miami.

Back in November, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich elected to sit Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginoboli and Danny Green against the Heat, and the NBA subsequently fined the team $250,000 US.

In March, Miami bench boss Erik Spoelstra sat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in a two-point victory. All will be on the court for Game 1 as the Heat continue their quest for back-to-back championships against a Spurs outfit in search of a fifth league title.

LeBron James, pictured in the gallery above, led Miami to the final with a 32-point, eight-rebound performance in Monday’s 99-76 win over Indiana in Game 7 of the East final.

San Antonio, meanwhile, hasn’t played since completing its four-game sweep of Memphis on May 27. The Spurs, led by point guard Tony Parker, have just two losses in 14 games in this post-season.

Who are the players to watch in this series? Who could be the difference maker for each team? Check out the gallery, vote in the poll above and comment below.