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NBA Finals a toss-up series

San Antonio favored, but Nets could win

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A capsule look at the NBA Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the New Jersey Nets:

SAN ANTONIO SPURS (60-22, 12-6) vs. NEW JERSEY NETS (49-33, 12-2):

STARTERS — Spurs: C David Robinson (6.8 pts, 6.4 reb), F Tim Duncan (24.9 pts, 14.8 reb, 5.3 ast), F Bruce Bowen (8.1 pts. 2.8 reb), G Stephen Jackson (13.6 pts, 4.1 reb), G Tony Parker (14.9 pts, 3.3 ast). Nets: C Jason Collins (6.8 pts, 6.9 reb), F Kenyon Martin (20.7 pts, 9.1 reb), F Richard Jefferson (14.4 pts, 6.3 reb), G Kerry Kittles (10.8 pts, 3.2 reb), G Jason Kidd (20.3 pts, 8.4 reb, 8.3 ast).

KEY RESERVES — Spurs: F Malik Rose (24.1 min, 9.8 pts, 6.4 reb), G Manu Ginobili (27.1 min, 9.7 pts, 3.6 reb). Nets: F Aaron Williams (19.2 min, 6.8 pts, 4.7 reb), G Lucious Harris (22.1 min, 8.3 pts), F Rodney Rogers (19.7 min, 7.6 pts, 3.3 reb).

SEASON SERIES: Tied 1-1, each team winning at home. San Antonio won 92-78 on March 6 as Parker (21 points, 10 in the fourth quarter) outplayed Kidd (4-for-19). Duncan had 21 points and 21 rebounds, and Ginobili had 18 points, seven assists and five steals. New Jersey won 91-82 on Nov. 13, with Harris scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter to break open a close game. Jefferson scored 27, and Kidd had 18 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and eight turnovers.

STORYLINE: A toss-up series despite San Antonio being favored, one that should be determined in large part by New Jersey's ability to get out in the open court and run the fast break. San Antonio is seeking its second NBA championship; the Nets haven't won a title since they were in the ABA.

KEY MATCHUP I: Duncan vs. Martin. The Nets will occasionally send a second defender to help, but Martin will try to handle him one-on-one most of the time. Duncan was a matchup nightmare for the Suns, Lakers and Mavericks in the first three rounds, and Martin caused all sorts of problems for the Bucks, Celtics and Pistons.

KEY MATCHUP II: Parker vs. Kidd. The edge in talent and experience goes to Kidd, but Parker has lots of confidence for a 21-year-old and has played some of his best games when provided with extra motivation. With the Spurs possibly targeting Kidd as a free agent this summer, Parker will have it: He could be playing for his job.

WEAKNESSES: The Spurs are a poor free throw-shooting team and have been prone to blowing big leads — especially in fourth quarters. The Nets will have a size disadvantage that will give San Antonio more opportunities for second-chance points.

LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: The last time these teams met in the playoffs was Game 7 of the ABA semifinals on April 24, 1976. The next day, Duncan was born.

PREDICTION: Nets in 7.