With a broken, hobbled LeBron James suddenly grimacing late in Game 1 after a successful drive to the rim cut the San Antonio Spurs lead to just two points, the Miami Heat could not capitalize without their leader and let the game slip away.
Though it wasn't nearly as dramatic, this time it was the San Antonio Spurs who couldn't recover in crunch time after Tony Parker was slowed down from an elbow courtesy of Mario Chalmers. And this time it was the Heat who made timely baskets, none bigger then a breathtaking play from LeBron James who drove down the lane only to find Chris Bosh for the corner three.
But it was much more than that, it was LeBron dominating on both ends of the floor and knocking down baskets from every spot on the court. Or when he smothered a much smaller, quicker opponent in Tony Parker to strip the ball from the Frenchman and force the Spurs into a tough shot with only 0.8 seconds left on the shot clock. How about when he scored 8 points in 51 seconds to halt the Spurs momentum in the second quarter? The final stat line of 35 points, 10 rebounds and 3 assists don't begin to fully encapsulate his night and yet more was needed to overcome the Spurs in their home floor with so much on the line.
Bosh (18 points) was aggressive all night, where he was consistently attacking the rim on cuts to the basket and had one of the plays of the night that helped seal the victory with a perfect drive to the rim and the pinpoint bounce pass to Dwyane Wade (14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) for the easy layup and a five point lead with 9 seconds left in the game.
Rashard Lewis once again stepped up for the Heat, knocking down 3 three-pointers en route to 14 points. The Heat got little from the bench but did get 9 points from Ray Allen and 9 rebounds and the usual high energy act from Birdman.
Wade and LeBron struggled early, with just two combined points in the first quarter and 1-4 from the field. Criticized heavily by some for his health issues late in Game 1, LeBron quickly bounced back and scored 11 points in the second quarter. Both teams went back and forth for the entirety of the game, with several lead changes and ties in all four quarters of play. The Heat team as a whole showed incredible will to keep coming back from a Spurs team that was firing on all cylinders, especially in the first half, to keep the team close and never letting the crowd getting fully into it.
Kawhi Leonard, who impressed so much in last year's Finals, was again a complete disappointment for the Spurs with foul trouble marring his night. Tiago Splitter was ineffective with just two points to his name. Boris Diaw had a complete game with 7 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists but other then him and Manu Ginobili (19 points) the Spurs didn't get enough production from their much-heralded bench, certainly not enough to counterbalance what LeBron and his teammates did down the stretch.
San Antonio's offense was sizzling from the start, with their ability to make the extra pass and keep the ball moving which made it difficult for the Heat to keep up with the home team's quick pace. With the Heat clamping down on their defense, the Spurs moved away from that in the fourth quarter and were noticeably more static in their movement. To be fair, the Heat also had several possessions that could best be categorized as "hero ball" with LeBron, Bosh and Wade taking turns early in the final quarter with the ball and creating their own offense.
The Spurs could have gone up by six points after the late Chalmers flagrant foul in the fourth, but Parker missed the subsequent two free throws and Tim Duncan failed to hit two free throws after getting fouled. The crowd was then silenced with a LeBron dagger three.
Miami now has won 13 straight games following a playoff loss and has gained home court advantage following the Game 1 loss, just like against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Game Three is on Tuesday at the AmericanAirlines Arena at 9:00pm.