Sunday night at 8:00 PM in the AT&T Center in San Antonio, the Spurs will host the HEAT for Game Two of the NBA Finals best-of-seven series. After this contest, the two will head to Miami for Game Three and Game Four at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
So far this postseason, the team that won Game One have gone on to earn eight-of-14 postseason best-of-seven series. For the record, Miami is two wins and a loss in Game One this season, while the Spurs are a perfect three and O. On their way to the big dance, Miami defeated the Charlotte Bobcats in four, the Brooklyn Nets in five, and the Indiana Pacers in six. San Antonio got here by earning series' victories over the Dallas Mavericks in seven, the Portland Trail Blazers in five, and the Oklahoma City Thunder in six.
Game One was pretty close for three and a half quarters on Thursday night. The game was actually tied at 90 with 5:20 remaining in the fourth period, after a layup by "The Birdman" Chris Andersen. Unfortunately, it was right about then that the most famous and well-documented case of HEAT cramps in recorded history would attack LeBron James. I'm not going to blame the broken air-conditioning at the AT&T Center. After all, every other player on both teams also had to play through the conditions. It's just that after James left the game, the HEAT seemingly folded like a house of cards. The Spurs scored 20 of the final 25 points enroute to a 110-95 victory.
James still finished with 25 points, six boards, three assists and three steals. Dwyane Wade scored 19 points, Chris Bosh added 18 points on seven-of-11 shooting with nine rebounds, and Ray Allen had 16 points with three rebounds, three helpers, and five steals.
For San Antonio, Tim Duncan hit nine-of-10 field goals for 21 points with 10 rebounds, Tony Parker scored 19 points with eight assists, and Manu Ginobili put up 16 points with 11 assists. It was a remarkably sloppy game, with the two teams combining for 41 turnovers and 35 personal fouls. Full coverage, including the recap, the box score, and the video, is available on NBA.COM.
LeBron had to answer a lot of heat-cramp related questions after the game:
I'm feeling better [after the game] than I did when I came off the floor [with cramps]. ... I was going to try to give it a go, and 'Spo said 'No.' You know, after I came out of the game, they kind of took off. And it was frustrating sitting out and not being able to help the team.
Boris Diaw, who finished up with only two points, also grabbed 10 rebounds and finished with a game-high plus-30 rating. Ginobili had a plus-22, Parker was a plus-13, and Kawhi Leonard scored nine points with a plus-11 rating. Shane Battier, despite getting held scoreless with an assist, a rebound, and a foul in 14 minutes, led Miami as the only HEAT player above even, at plus-1. LeBron finished with an even rating.
As in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, the key to this series is for the HEAT to take at least one game on the road to get the upper hand in the series. Miami was unable to start this series off with that, and need to win a minimum of all their home games and at least one in San Antonio now.
Game Time: 8:00 PM Betting Line: San Antonio by 4 1/2, O/U 198.5
January 26th - HEAT 113, Spurs 101
March 6th - Spurs 111, HEAT 87
June 5th - Spurs 110, HEAT 95
This day in HEATstory
2006 - Game One of the 2006 Finals would see the Dallas Mavericks hand the HEAT a 90-80 loss. Jason Terry had 32, and Dirk Nowitzki finished with 16. Dwyane Wade led the HEAT with 28 points, while Shaquille O'Neal and Antoine Walker put up 17 points each.
Probable Starting Lineups
|PG - Mario Chalmers||6.8||2.5||3.7||1.1||0.4|
|PF - Rashard Lewis||4.4||2.1||0.2||0.5||0.3|
|C - Chris Bosh||15.4||5.9||1.1||0.8||1.2|
|SF - LeBron James||27.0||6.8||4.9||1.9||0.6|
|SG - Dwyane Wade||18.7||3.8||4.1||1.4||0.3|
San Antonio Spurs
|PG - Tony Parker||17.3||2.3||5.1||0.6||0.1|
|PF - Tim Duncan||16.7||8.9||1.9||0.3||1.3|
|C - Tiago Splitter||8.2||6.7||1.9||0.7||0.5|
|SF - Kawhi Leonard||13.1||6.6||1.5||1.7||0.5|
|SG - Danny Green||9.5||3.3||0.8||1.3||0.8|
What 2 Watch 4
After a Game One which showed a San Antonio that is more than ready to match up with the HEAT, Miami seems to have their work cut out for them. 43 minutes into the game showed that this matchup, *minus* some leg cramps, have all the makings of a June classic. I'm sure the Spurs will take any win, as will the HEAT, but I have to think that they would prefer to win versus a completely functional opponent. After all, "To be the best you have to beat the best." Would a HEAT win versus a Spurs team with Tony Parker on the bench be as satisfying?
Winning a fifth title would cement the Spurs legacy, as would a fourth title for Miami. It's still a long way from over. www.basketball-reference.com currently gives the HEAT a 36.4% chance at securing the title, but taking tomorrow's contest will push their odds over 50%. Conversely, a loss would drop their chances to somewhere around 15%. Every game in a seven game series is a "must win" - even though we know that mathematically that is simply not true. Still, if tonight isn't a "must win," then it's at the very least a "should probably serious contemplate going back to Miami with at least one victory" game.
Keep your browser dialed in to Hot Hot Hoops for all of your HEAT news. For another look at the series, head over to Pounding The Rock.