The first Game of the 2014 NBA Finals was indeed a heated battle between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. There were reports coming out of the A&T Center that the air-conditioning had malfunctioned, leaving the players, fans, and media having to endure the conditions. Considering the fact that there were literally tens of thousands of people in that arena, it’s safe to assume that the temperature certainly affected the players to some extent.
From the moment the game started, we were treated to the best basketball anyone could have asked for. The first few minutes of the game were played at an incredibly fast pace on both sides of the court. Throughout the early minutes both teams traded scores, until San Antonio firmly established a lead against their opponents. Any questions about Tony Parker‘s lingering ankle issues were put to rest early. He managed to navigate through defenders with considerable ease. The veteran point guard was aggressive through out the game, drawing contact and setting up his teammates. The eight assists were beneficial to San Antonio playing smart basketball, and not forcing themselves into terrible situations.
Parker wasn’t the only guard on the court that had all eyes on him. Dwyane Wade also showed that he was as healthy as he’s been in recent memory, attacking the paint with a vintage quickness. San Antonio is going to have a hard time defending him in this series if they can’t match his pace, something Eric Spoelstra is surely banking on. Greg Popovich will have to adjust accordingly, as Marco Belinelli and Danny Green both lacked in their efforts to contain Wade until late in the game.
The pillar of the Spurs team, Tim Duncan also showed that he is still as effective as ever. “The Big Fundamental” provided a 21 point, 10 rebound double-double performance to elevate his team. He was responsible for his share of turnovers, but compensated by providing the help defense needed to halt Miami on key possessions.
Not to be overshadowed, Manu Ginobili certainly played his part as the 3rd factor of the Spur’s “Big Three”. His first quarter resulted in hm shooting 3 for 4 from the 3 point line to set the pace. His contributions came in more ways than one, as he finished the game with 16 points and 11 assists, helping San Antonio in every way possible.
The Spurs managed to hold off the Heat going into half-time with a 54-49 lead. One of the biggest question marks I had going into this was how would Belinelli perform. Kawhi Leonard getting into early foul trouble would answer that, as Belinelli came into replace him for major minutes during the second quarter. The Spurs newcomer played considerably well on the offensive side, and it allowed for Leonard to remain on the bench and out of foul trouble before the second half. This was strategic in the sense that Kawhi had played great when matched up against LeBron James in the past.
That match-up would actually lean towards James favor as he scored a game high 25 points before leaving the game towards the end of the 4th quarter. (For more analysis on the aspect of James’ cramping, check the video below.)
Despite getting the win, the most glaring issue with San Antonio was how they handled the ball early in the second half. Quite frankly, they were terrible, and the fact that they were able to get the win with 22 turnovers is not something that should be treated lightly. Once the Spurs started tempering their mistakes, they were able to regain the lead to nab the first win in this series.
It’s still early but both teams played great all things considered. The winner of this series is going to rely heavily on their bench players, as Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Belinelli all provided major contributions. Ginobli’s efforts speak for themselves, as the reliable sixth man turned in an extremely effective game one performance, and Miami will need to counter this in a major way. Aside from Ray Allen and a little life out of Norris Cole, they didn’t receive much from Chris Andersen or Shane Battier. In my mind, Coach Spoelstra showed that he can make the right adjustments, its on the players to perform up to par.
If Game two is anything like this first one, with better climate conditions, then we should all be in for a treat.