To start, Tony Parker was the difference in this game. If TP did not produce like he did in the late stages of this game, we could easily be talking about a Miami win. ESPN Stats and Information tweeted out: “Video review shows the Spurs were 6-30 on contested shots. But TP made 2 in the final 3:30 of the game.” Here’s a tweet from NBA.com/Stats: “TP in the clutch (last 5min of a game, team up/down by 5pts) this postseason: 25pts (10-22) in 38 mins, +18 when on the floor.” ’Nuff said.
If Parker performs anywhere near the likes of last night, the Spurs should be on their way to another NBA championship; Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers can’t even DREAM about covering TP when he’s hot.
Tim Duncan was another game changer. Duncan finished with 8-19 from the field, 14 rebounds, 20 points, three blocks in 37 minutes. Not only was he a huge factor defensively for the Spurs, he’s nearly unstoppable on the low post. If Duncan can continue to expose the Heat’s paint defense, be sure Gregg Popovich will go to that play as a source of instant offense. The Heat allowed 40 points in the paint in Game 1.
The Spurs did a good job of limiting turnovers (four). Miami ranked 3rd in the regular season with 18.6 points off turnovers (they converted 15 points of the Spurs’ four TOV’s last night).
The last member of San Antonio’s Big 3, Manu Ginobili, did not have a good game; he has to be a source of disappointment if you are a Spurs fan. Ginobili finished with 13 points on 4-11 shooting in 30 minutes. As someone tweeted me yesterday, Ginobili’s production or lack of production will determine the series.
Kawhi Leonard played fabulously on LBJ. Leonard finished with 10pts and 10 reb in his Finals debut, but he did the seemingly unthinkable in disrupting LeBron’s flow offensively. Leonard did not appear intimidated by LeBron at all, and if Leonard stays out of foul trouble, the Spurs may have found the solution to winning this series.
On to Miami:
The bottom line from last night? The Heat did not come up in the clutch moments of the 4th quarter. Miami finished with 16 points in the fourth quarter (SAS finished with 23), and James did not take over the game like we all expected he should have done.
The Heat won the first three quarters off the production from their secondary players. Allen (13pts), Wade (17pts), Bosh (13pts), but those guys were unable to continue that production for 48 minutes. Once Wade, Bosh, and Allen declining offensively, James should have noticed and taken the offense under his wing. Instead, Chris Bosh took 5 fourth quarter shots to LeBron’s 4. How does that happen?! James missed his last shot in the final 5 seconds, finished with 7-16 shooting, and had his lowest scoring output of the season (18 points in 42 minutes).
To be honest, it almost seemed that James did not really exert himself scoring wise as much as he did getting his teammates involved. James recorded his 11th career playoff triple-double, which ranks him at third of all time in NBA history. Those numbers also meant that it was his third finals triple-double, making him just the third player to have consecutive triple-doubles in finals games (he posted a triple-double in last year’s championship clinching game against Oklahoma City). James had 10 assists and 18 rebounds on the night, which means that James had as many rebounds as points. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realize that the Spurs will live with those stats ALL SERIES LONG!!
Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press wrote eloquently: “The Spurs trailed for most of the first three quarters, but Duncan kept the Heat from running away by controlling the paint and moving the ball.” A lot of San Antonio’s shots were late in the shot clock. Jon continued to write, “Each time Wade and the Heat appeared to be taking control in the first 36 minutes, Duncan and the Spurs clamped down on defense, got a quick bucket on the other end, and halted the Miami burst.”
While Game 1 doesn’t mean the Spurs will cakewalk through the series – it’s the fourth time the Heat have lost a Game 1 in the “Big 3 era”. Miami went on to sweep the next four games in the previous three instances – the Spurs look to be the stronger team overall when you compare them against Miami. Plus, they may have found the answer to LeBron James, the most confounding enigma in all of basketball.