5 Things to Note from Game 1 NBA Finals

By on June 6, 2014
NBAFINALSGAME1

5 things to note from Game 1 NBA finals

1)     Sometimes it’s hard to believe these things are not staged. In game 1 in San Antonio against the Miami Heat, the air conditioning in the AT&T Centre decided to stop working and quickly an arena of 20,000 fans became a sauna. One group that was obviously happy about this turn of events, writers. Regardless of the outcome of the game their creativity could swirl and the race to the corniest headline began. Some noteworthy options that came forward this morning:

  • Too hot to handle
  • Spurs, Heat beat Miami
  • Spurs handle the Heat
  • Beat the Heat
  • Spurs fight through the heat, heat and turnovers to win Game 1
  • Spurs can stand the heat and the Heat

2)     This would all be fun and games if not for the fact that it actually drastically affected the outcome of the game. Despite what I am assuming is an unlimited supply of Powerade because of his sponsorship, LeBron James left the game with 4 minutes left in the 4th quarter with cramps. The opportunist Spurs went on a 16-3 run to end the game led by hot shooting from Danny Green. LeBron haters(z) quickly hit the internet with memes and making “LeBroning” a trending topic. People rarely miss an opportunity to try and knock King James down few pegs with dislike of him still stemming from “the Decision”. Thankfully not all in the world is negative as many professional athletes came to James defense stating that cramps are debilitating and pointing to the fact coach Spoelstra refused to let James back in. LeBron actually has a history of cramping up including missing significant time in game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals (and also receiving heavy criticism at that time). Suffice to say I would expect to LeBron to come out in game 2 looking to make a statement to those questioning his toughness

3)     A lot of the talk leading into the playoffs for a team like the Spurs who’s bench play is one their biggest strengths often centres on the logic that this advantage diminishes in the playoffs as teams play their starters more minutes and role players struggle to live up to the stage of the playoffs. This has not been the case for the Spurs who have been scoring 124 points per 100 possessions in the 2nd quarter of these playoffs (1st by a significant margin) when their bench players are on the floor. It was the 2nd quarter where the Spurs often pulled away from the Thunder throughout the Western Conference finals. Leading the charge in game 1 was Ginobli who checked in and quickly tossed in 9 PTS and 2 steals in his first 4 minutes on the floor, finishing with a stuffed stat sheet of 16 PTS, 5 REBS, 11 ASTS, 3 STLS and 1 BLK. The Spurs bench outscored Miami’s by 14 and added 18 assists. The fact that the Spurs rely on their strong bench came into play in game 1 where the desert heat amplified the need for subbing and keeping players fresh for the 4th quarter. The game was back and forth until the 4th quarter where the Spurs looked like the team in the best shape (shocking when looking at LeBron compared to Boris Diaw) and outscored the heat by 19 going 14-16 from the floor, including 6-6 from 3. Outside of LeBron having to miss the last four minutes, the rest of the Heat looked gassed with Bosh and Wade settling for mid-range jumpers that came up short.

4)     Two of the most prolific and efficient offenses in recent NBA history combined for 41 turnovers last night. The Spurs, despite coming into the game averaging 12 turnovers per game in the playoffs, had 23 leading to 28 points for Miami the other way. The Heat thrive off turnovers with the likes of LeBron and Wade being two of the best players in the open court. The impact of the Spurs turnovers was mitigated by the fact that Miami was coughing the ball right back with 18 turnovers of their own leading to 27 points for the Spurs, making the turnovers a wash although I would assume both coaches will not be accepting that logic. The turnovers occurred in part to the frenetic pace of the game as both teams were up and down the court all night. If this series is going to be played at that fast of the pace it certainly favours the Spurs who played at one of the fastest paces in the league this year (97.7 possession per game) compared to Miami who played the 27th (93 possessions per game) fastest pace and would prefer to keep the game below the 100 point threshold.

5)     One of the biggest storylines coming into game 1 was the health of Spurs All-Star point guard Tony Parker who injured his ankle in game 6 against of the Western Conference finals. Tony and his ankle looked good as new as he controlled the Spurs precise offense and went off for 19 PTS and 8 ASTS shooting above 50% and even dropping a couple rare 3 pointers for the point guard. The Spurs need Parker to continue playing healthy as his ability to get into the lane is crucial to the Spurs offensive system. Despite playing only 30 minutes a game in these playoffs, Parker leads the league in drives to the basket per game, which gives all the Spurs outside shooters great opportunities to shine as catch and shoot players. It will be interesting to see how his ankle feels the day after but at least for game 1, Tony Parker played like Tony Parker.

 

Game 2 goes Sunday at 8PM in San Antonio, let’s see if the Heat can cool down the spurs (had to take my turn at it).

About Joshua Murray

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