The 2013 NBA Finals are officially underway, as the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Miami Heat in Game 1 by a score of 92-88. The Spurs now hold a 1-0 series lead, thus placing the pressure on their opposition to perform.
The question is, which players are under the most pressure entering Game 2?
Game 1 was one that defied the logic of statistics, as San Antonio shot just 41.7 percent from the field and 30.4 percent from beyond the arc. Entering the fourth quarter, the Heat had been shooting 47.5 percent from the field, but still held just a three-point lead.
The Heat simply couldn't put the Spurs away, despite San Antonio playing with rust and a lack of impact from players outside of their Big Three.
With Game 2 looming and the potential for Miami to fall into an 0-2 hole, the Heat must receive a strong contribution from their key players. On the opposite end, the Spurs must see a greater effort from their team, as shooting 41.7 percent from the field simply will not be good enough to win Game 2.
So who's under the most pressure of all?
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat
Chris Bosh is often unnecessarily labeled as the weak link of the Big Three, as his numbers pale in comparison to those posted by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. With that being said, Bosh's impact has never been truly questioned, which is why he was an All-Star in 2013.
Thus far during the 2013 NBA playoffs, Bosh is looking more like a crazed fan that found his way onto the court.
His overall postseason numbers aren't horrendous, as Bosh is averaging 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. What is disturbing, however, is the numbers that Bosh has posted over his past five games.
Since May 28, Bosh is averaging 8.2 points and 5.0 rebounds on 28.0 percent shooting from the floor.
Game 1 was an upgrade for Bosh, as he scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds in his first double-digit scoring game in five tries. Unfortunately, Bosh also went 6-of-16 from the field and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc.
For a player that shot 28.4 percent from three-point range during the regular season, it's puzzling why he'd attempt four in Game 1.
If the Heat are to bounce back and win Game 2, they'll need Bosh to counter Tim Duncan in some form. While Bosh went for 13 and five, Duncan finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds, including three on the offensive end.
Now that the Spurs know how to beat the Heat on an off night, it's on Bosh to step up when they're clicking.
Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs
Manu Ginobili is widely regarded amongst NBA pundits as one of the greatest big-game performers of his generation. Oddly enough, the the legendary performance we've been waiting for during the 2013 NBA playoffs still hasn't come.
That's either very bad news for the Miami Heat or age has finally caught up with the 35-year-old.
If the Spurs are going to pull out this upset, they'll need Ginobili to turn back the hands of time. Not only is he a key scorer, but Ginobili creates shots for himself and those around him.
With the shots failing to fall, it's on Ginobili to step up, once again.
Don't think Ginobili is out of 30-point scoring outbursts—also, don't fool yourself into thinking the Spurs won't need one.
Game 1 was strong enough for Ginobili, as he scored 13 points and made two three-point field goals. This is a continuation of what we've seen, as Ginobili has been an all-around contributor that comes up in the clutch but hasn't found his scoring touch just yet.
His strong outings in the first three rounds are encouraging, but every Spurs fan is collectively wondering—is this a preview of things to come? Or just the last bit of strength that Ginobili can muster?
As we hit Game 2, there's no better time for Ginobili to rise up and lead the Spurs to a stunning road upset, thus creating a 2-0 series lead as we head back to San Antonio—we all know he can do it.
Ray Allen, Miami Heat
On the surface, Ray Allen put forth a strong performance during Game 1, finishing with 13 points in 24 minutes. Once we dig deeper, however, it becomes clear that Allen isn't playing at the level we expected him to.
Any time a player of Allen's caliber attempts just four field goals, something's wrong.
This isn't a new trend, either, as Allen has topped 10 field-goal attempts just once in Miami's past 13 games. This comes after he averaged 16.5 points on 46.4 percent shooting against the Milwaukee Bucks and thus set the stage for an aided title push.
In recent games, however, Allen has looked more like Mike Miller—brought in to shoot, but not trusted with the ball in his hands.
Dwyane Wade's resurgence is encouraging and LeBron James is destined to play better than he did in Game 1—the triple-double was met by a poor shooting performance. If the Heat are to win this series, however, they must have consistent contributions and aggression from Allen.
It's not acceptable that Allen and Chris Bosh attempted the same amount of three-point field goals during Game 1.
If Allen is able to find his shooting stroke, Miami's offense will open up and Wade and Bosh will recover. If he's unable to hit his mark, however, Allen could be in danger of becoming one of the scapegoats for Miami's potential failure.
Who's going to bet against the all-time leader in three-point field goals made?