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NBA Finals 2013: Top Storylines to Watch in Remainder of Heat vs. Spurs Series

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 06:  Tony Parker #9 of the San Antonio Spurs makes a shot with 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter against LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during Game One of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 6, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Mike HoagCorrespondent IIJune 7, 2013

The rested San Antonio Spurs stole Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals from the Miami Heat after trailing for much of the evening. It wasn’t flashy, but the Spurs turned out a technically sound and steady performance and held on to win the game in its final moments.

LeBron James deferred to his teammates a little too often and couldn’t turn it on down the stretch in that series-opening loss. He finished with a triple-double but scored just 18 points.

Can the Heat bounce back, as they have done so many times before? In 2012-13, Miami hasn’t lost back-to-back games since early January. Also, this Heat team has lost just three previous Game 1 playoffs matchups.

Each time, it responded by sweeping the ensuing four games to win the series.

Will Miami be able to bounce back again with the NBA championship hanging in the balance?

Let’s take a look at a couple of the storylines that will play out throughout the rest of this year’s finals.

 

The 2-3-2 Series Format

San Antonio’s Game 1 win has changed the landscape of the NBA Finals. Historically, winners of the opening matchup have gone on to win the finals 71 percent of the time, according to Heavy in the Games:

The finals' 2-3-2 series format puts the home team at a slight disadvantage, according to Dick Vitale. San Antonio stole a game in Miami, where the Heat have played exceptionally well this season. That has shifted the balance back in their favor, but it might not be that simple.

According to history, Dicky V’s opinion may be a little off. Just three teams have swept Games 3, 4 and 5 at home in the finals during the 13-year span of the format.

Additionally, teams that started with home-court advantage have won nine of the 13 series in that time.

 

LeBron James’ Supporting Cast

Miami’s “Big Three” is slowly becoming the LeBron James Show. James has taken the lead as the rest of his teammates have struggled to perform during the recent weeks of the 2013 playoffs. Reggie Miller labeled the team the “Miami Cavaliers” during the hard-fought series with the Indiana Pacers.

James did his best to get his key teammates involved in Game 1 against the Spurs, but he took a step back in the scoring department in the process. He recorded 10 dimes but finished with just 18 points.

If Miami hopes to win this series, James is going to have to ramp up his offensive efforts and hope his teammates can make the most out of their opportunities. Chris Bosh shooting and missing four three-pointers each game is not a winning approach for the Heat.

 

Tony Parker Making His Case

Like his teammates, Tony Parker is all business on the floor. He is the definition of steady and efficient, but even he can show some flash at times. He had a couple of those moments during Game 1 of the finals.

Parker drove to the lane, spun and executed a beautiful reverse layup for a score against a helpless Norris Cole.

           

With the Spurs up by two points, Parker lost control and fell to a knee. He recovered and got up, sidestepped LeBron James and just barely got off a game-sealing bank shot as the shot clock expired.

Those plays, and his overall performance, are a significant reminder of the potential he has to dictate the outcomes of games. According to ESPN/ABC's Jalen Rose, Parker is the third-best player in the NBA:

Yahoo! Sports NBA expert Adrian Wojnarowski said the point guard’s Game 1 performance could help make the case for Parker as “the greatest European player to ever come to the NBA.”

How good Parker can be and how far he can take this resurgent Spurs team is definitely something to watch in the coming games.

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