The NBA Finals have begun and the San Antonio Spurs waltzed into the AmericanAirlines Arena and stole a game from the Miami Heat.
Tony Parker was great down the stretch and steered the Spurs to victory. The Heat are obviously far from done, but the defeat at home certainly puts pressure on them to come through in the next few games.
Although we’re late in posting these, here are the predictions of the Warriors World staff:
- Jordan Ramirez: Heat in 5
- Jesse Taylor: Heat in 6
- Jim Del Favero: Heat in 6
- Jack Winter: Spurs in 6
- Rasheed Malek: Heat in 5
- Ethan Strauss: Heat in 7
- J.M. Poulard: Spurs in 6
Parker wasn’t alone in his Game 1 brilliance. Tim Duncan and LeBron James submitted terrific all around performances for their respective teams and will be expected to do so during the remainder of the championship series.
Duncan was unstoppable on the low block and in the paint. He seemingly scored at will and his production will surely torment the Heat in the NBA Finals.
In addition, his defensive work is the stuff of legends. Despite facing early foul trouble, the big man anchored the paint masterfully. He contested shots at the rim, swatted away a few attempts and rebounded his area.
Also, he expertly rotated off Chris Bosh and dared him to shoot from the perimeter. Duncan’s help defense was partly responsible for keeping James’ attempts to a minimum in the contest.
The four-time league MVP was sensational in terms of sharing the wealth in Game 1 as evidenced by his 10 assists. He diagnosed the defensive scheme on every trip down the court and located the open man.
He was a force on the boards and out in transition with the few opportunities he was afforded on this front.
James’ performance was impressive even by his standards but one has to wonder whether Miami needed more from their superstar.
The Heat players looked fatigued late in the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the Finals. James typically plays the entire final period but needed a breather in this one and consequently spent the opening minutes of the final frame seated next to Dwyane Wade.
The effects of the seven-game series against the Indiana Pacers seemed to rear their head in the opening contest of the 2013 Finals. Also, the amount of energy one must exert when defending the Spurs is a tall order.
Erik Spoelstra will have to find ways to give his leading scorer a few breaks in the championship round if the Heat are going to bounce back from the opening home loss.
The Spurs missed a fair share of open 3-pointers, particularly from the corners where they are lethal. San Antonio missed five-of-seven corner 3-pointers (28.6 percent conversion rate).
During the 2012-13 regular season, the Spurs converted 41.1 percent of their corners threes (sixth best in the league) and were third in attempts per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.
Popovich’s group did all the little things that great teams do that do not necessarily show up in the box score. For instance, they did a great job of closing out every quarter and keeping the deficit within a reasonable range.
If we strictly look at the final two minutes of each quarter, the Spurs outscored the Heat 17-16. That may not seem like much, but in a contest where both teams are evenly matched, every point makes a difference, especially when tired legs are involved.
The chess match has begun.
Popovich drew first blood. He routinely got Parker and Duncan to their favored spots and they delivered. Spolestra must now counter and do the same.
Wade and James will need to get their looks in the second halves much like they did in the first half f Game 1.
If such is not the case, Duncan will soon be celebrating his fifth championship victory.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected].