The ghosts of the 2013 NBA Finals never truly left Gregg Popovich, so the Sunday showdown in Miami between his San Antonio Spurs and the two-time defending champion Heat won't be a haunted house visit.

All those years, all those championships and the incredible run of unparalleled success, and the memories that he still can't seem to shake are the ones from those two fateful Finals games inside the American Airlines Arena. Game 6 — with the unwelcome help of LeBron James and Ray Allen, a five-point lead with 28 seconds remaining in regulation becomes an overtime loss. Game 7 — a 95-88 loss that left Popovich and his Spurs reeling.

"Uh, it'll be a horrible memory walking in that gym," Popovich told USA TODAY Sports by phone on Thursday as his team headed for its Friday night game in Atlanta. "If I said anything different, I'd be the biggest liar that ever lived. How could I say, 'Yeah, no problem. Well, it was a tough night.' That's (expletive). We all know that.

"So the truth is that it will be horrible walking in there. I'll think about it right off the bat, but it won't be any different than what I think about every day. At some point during the day, it goes through my head. I've said it a lot of times. My hope is that over time I'll think about it every two days, and then every week and then every month and then that kind of thing."

Hope isn't floating very well at the moment, though, for Popovich or his players.

His small forward and resident defensive stopper, Kawhi Leonard, is out for at least three weeks after breaking the fourth metacarpal on his right hand in a home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night that knocked them out of the top spot in the Western Conference. That makes three starters in street clothes from now until who-knows-when, the others being guard Danny Green (also a finger fracture) and center Tiago Splitter (right shoulder).