By Craig Fields
Who knew that a basketball court hovering around 92 degrees could stop the unstoppable LeBron James. If the San Antonio Spurs had known this, I’m very sure that their air conditioning unit would have “broken down” last year as well. There is no doubt in my mind that the Spurs won this game because LeBron James was out of commission for much of the second half of Game 1. But hey lets break it down.
The ebb and flow of Game 1 of the NBA Finals was much like the entire series of last year. For much of the game this was a back and forth battle between two teams that would not say die. Manu Ginobili really provided a spark for the Spurs in the first quarter draining three of four three-pointers. However, whatever Manu Ginobili did, Ray Allen did as well. Minus the assist numbers, Ginobili had 11, Allen provided that same scoring explosiveness off the bench that the Heat will need in order to compete with the Spurs.
The second half of the game was more of the same. Back and forth action with the Heat finding themselves up by as much as seven. Chris Bosh was the main catalyst behind this with a pivotal four-point-play coming in the fourth quarter. This was actually a two-point game with about four minutes left in the game.
The final score: Spurs 110- Heat-95. What the heck happened? LeBron James happened. Or should I say didn’t happen. It turns out superman’s kryptonite was the heat. The heat of the stadium that is. Some of us might remember when the big guy had cramping issues in the OKC NBA Finals matchup of 2012.
The Heat lost this game, mainly because LeBron James could not play in crunch. His body simply shut down on him. I do not think that it is a coincidence that the Spurs proceeded to go on a 16-3 when the king sat down for good in the fourth quarter. But hey that’s just my take on it. There were so many subplots in this game, that picking just one may seem foolish. However, in my opinion it was the biggest one.
What Happens Now
Well, simply put, LeBron will have to rebound from this game. Period. No excuses. As it is, the Spurs defense did not really have any tools to stop James. He still had 25 points on 9-17 shooting, three steals, six rebounds and three assists. He should be able to, at the very least, duplicate that performance. I personally expect him to surpass it.
The a/c unit at the AT&T Center has been fixed and should be fine for Game 2 on Sunday. Adjustments will have to be made by both teams, and for the Heat that means making sure that their star guy is fit to play. James, who is both their offensive and defensive anchor will need to be 100% for the Heat to stand a chance in this series. Head Coach Erik Spoelstra can not really get more out of his guys defensively than he got on Thursday night. The Spurs turned the ball over 22 times. At one point I think I saw Gregg Popovich pulling out what little hair he has left on his head.
It will be difficult to slow down Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter who combined for 35 points and 14 rebounds. For a team that is so undersized inside, Spoelstra might want to give center Chris “Birdman” Andersen more than 17 minutes of playing time. Given an ample amount of time, he can provide both energy and defense in the paint, causing both Duncan and Splitter issues like he did in last year’s finals.
Mario Chalmers will most likely not have the same foul trouble that he did in Game 1. Starting point guard Chalmers was a big reason why the Heat won last year’s finals. There were a couple of games where he thoroughly outplayed Spurs starting point guard, Tony Parker. Chalmers will need to be an imposing figure defensively on Parker so that the French guard does not have a repeat 19-point, eight-assist performance in Game 2.
What I Think Will Happen
The Miami Heat will win this series in seven games. Maybe six. The reason I say this is because of LeBron James. In Michael Jordan’s era you wouldn’t pick against the Chicago Bulls once they made it to the Finals. Well, LeBron is this era’s Jordan. I just do not see James and the Heat coming up short this year.
I have said it before and I will say it again. James is comparable to Jordan in every statistic, both in the regular season and the playoffs. We can no longer deny the greatness in LeBron. We can hate him. We can talk down on him. We can say whatever we like. But like my favorite show on ESPN says, numbers don’t lie. They really don’t. Truer words have never been spoken. We will see what Game 2 has in store for us.
Series to Date
Spurs 110 – Heat 95 Spurs lead 1-0
Game 2: 6/8 Heat @ Spurs 7:00 p.m.
Game 3: 6/10 Spurs @ Heat 8:00 p.m.
Game 4: 6/12 Spurs @ Heat 8:00 p.m.
Game 5: 6/15 Heat @ Spurs 7:00 p.m. (If Necessary)
Game 6: 6/17 Spurs @ Heat 8:00 p.m. (If Necessary)
Game 7: 6/20 Heat @ Spurs 8:00 p.m (If Necessary)