If the NBA Finals were predictable, there would be no point in watching. Game 1 between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs isn’t going to go the way that some people have it written up.
There are bound to be a couple of unlikely occurrences throughout Thursday night’s Game 1 matchup, but what will they be? What kind of bold predictions can we make about Game 1’s outcome? Will an unlikely hero arise? Will a star have a miserable game?
Let’s take a look at three specific aspects of Game 1 that are somewhat against the odds, unlikely to happen—but still could—or bold, if you will. Don’t be surprised Friday when you’re reading the morning newspaper and all three happened.
When: Thursday, June 6, at 9 p.m. ET
Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, Fla.
Regular Season Series: 2-0 Heat
Chris Bosh Leads All Scorers
Chris Bosh isn’t Miami’s top scorer nor is he its biggest scoring threat. He had a good regular season shooting 53.5 percent from the field, but was horrible from three-point territory, shooting just 28.4 percent.
In the postseason, Bosh’s percentages have flip-flopped. Playing in all of the Heat’s 16 postseason games, Bosh is now just shooting 45.7 percent from the field, but 48.4 percent from downtown.
In 90 total games this year, Bosh only led both teams in scoring on five occasions. In two of those games, Dwyane Wade was absent due to injury. In another, Wade and LeBron James both sat out. James and Wade will both be in the lineup for Game 1.
As Miami’s top-two leading scorers in the regular season and postseason, it seems unlikely that Bosh will be able to top them and every player on the Spurs in points. But taking into consideration that the primary focus on defense for San Antonio will be limiting shots from Wade and James, Bosh could have plenty of scoring opportunities.
Bosh will be the leading scorer if he can hit a couple of threes. If he’s matched up against Tim Duncan, I don’t think the Spurs forward is going to stray very far away from the paint. That means that every once in a while, Bosh could find himself with an open jump shot from downtown.
Spurs Win on the Road
The Spurs and Heat are very evenly matched and Game 1 could definitely go either way. But in previous NBA Finals Game 1s, it’s very rare for the road team to come out victorious. ESPN Stats & Info provides us with the breakdown:
It’s also worth noting that the Heat are nearly impossible to defeat at home. During the regular season, Miami lost just four games at the AmericanAirlines Arena. However, the Heat have already dropped a pair at home during the postseason. Can the Spurs take down the Heat on the road?
The Spurs are entering their fifth Game 1 of the NBA Finals in franchise history. They’ve won each of them to this point and Thursday night will be the fifth win in that streak.
San Antonio was the fifth-best team on the road during the regular season, winning 23-of-41 games. The Spurs are 6-1 on the road in the postseason.
Tony Parker will be the reason why the Spurs win Game 1. During the regular season, he averaged more points on the road than he did at home—albeit the difference is less than a full point. He didn’t shoot as well on the road, but coming into a big series with a lot of rest, he should be ready to shoot the lights out.
LeBron Misses the Game-Winner
James is one of the best late-game players there is in professional basketball, and when the game is on the line there’s no doubt that he’s getting the ball. He nearly always got the last shot when he was with the Cleveland Cavaliers and that trend has continued with the Heat.
The Indiana Pacers knew that James was getting the ball in overtime in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals and they still couldn’t do anything about it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take look at the video below, brought to us courtesy of the official YouTube account of the NBA:
The Spurs and Heat are both so good that Game 1 is sure to be decided by less than handful of points. In my mind, the Spurs will be up by a point with 10 seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter. The Heat will have the ball and, you guessed it, the plan is to get the ball to James.
As Bosh comes up to the key to try to set a pick for James, trying to knock Kawai Leonard out of the play and giving James an open look at the basket, Leonard will play it perfectly. James will be forced to take a step-back jumper from right inside the three-point line that’ll clank off the inside of the rim.
The Spurs take Game 1 and the conversation of how clutch James is starts all over again.