It's Way Too Soon to Count out LeBron James, Miami Heat in 2013 NBA Finals
But that doesn't mean a small setback is going to sound any alarms in South Beach, either.
Erik Spoelstra can (and will) go back to the drawing board and make whatever adjustments he sees fit. But the Heat don't need to stray too far from their game plan to right the ship; there were a number of positives that they can take from that loss.
Before even going over the film, the Heat can take comfort in the fact that history may still be on their side.
While the losers of Game 1 have lost 21 of the last 29 NBA Finals, Miami has been one of the few fortunate ones to buck that trend. The Heat have accounted for two of those eight come-from-behind championship series wins, first recovering from an 0-2 hole against the Dallas Mavericks in 2006, then running off four straight victories after falling to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 last season.
And it's not just a finals oddity for Miami. In fact, since the Big Three came together in the summer of 2010, the Heat have been nearly unbeatable after falling behind in any postseason series:
Since LeBron signed in Miami, the Heat are 17-1 in a series after falling behind in that series. Only loss to Dallas in G6 of 2011 Finals.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 7, 2013
This certainly seems to fall in line with the thinking that the Heat are one of the worst sleepwalking offenders in the league. They built a bulk of their 27-game winning streak this season on their ability to flip a switch at the most critical times. Sometimes they need to feel threatened before fully engaging themselves.
Back to Game 1, though.
There were so many reasons that Miami shouldn't have even been in the game, let alone enjoy a lead for a good chunk of the contest.
LeBron James looked to find his teammates at seemingly any and every opportunity. While Miami has the kind of elite distributors to demoralize a defense by sharing the basketball, it can ill afford the King attempting just 16 shots in a game-high 42 minutes. Chris Bosh fired off just as many in just 35 minutes; Tim Duncan hoisted 19 shots in 37 minutes.
But a passive James wasn't the Heat's only problem. The Spurs demonstrated masterful ball control, committing just four turnovers in the game. San Antonio's not a team that regularly shoots itself in the foot, but even this level of discipline had to impress Gregg Popovich:
The Spurs' four turnovers were their fewest in a playoff game during the Tim Duncan-era (since the 1998 postseason).— Jared Zwerling (@JaredZwerling) June 7, 2013
Miami transforms turnovers into points faster than any team in the league, but its transition game never got off the ground on Thursday night. The Heat are too good of a defensive team to witness a similarly efficient performance by the Spurs again in Game 2.
As far as the numbers go, the turnover column was one of the few areas that the Heat didn't win. Miami out-shot San Antonio from the field (43.6 to 41.7) and from three-point land (32.0 to 30.4), had a better assist percentage (58.8 to 45.7) and dominated the glass (plus-nine rebounding differential).
Individually, though, the numbers weren't nearly as favorable.
Dwyane Wade had one of his better scoring games of this postseason (17 points), but he was a non-factor as both a distributor (two assists in 36 minutes) and a rebounder (two boards). Chris Bosh continued to struggle to find his range (6-of-16 from the field). Mario Chalmers didn't fare any better (3-of-10).
And still Miami had a tremendous chance to win the game.
Despite their offensive issues, the Heat trailed by only two points with less than 90 seconds left in regulation. Chris Bosh got a clean look at a triple that would've made it a one-point game with 1:01 left on the clock.
Will this series be tied when it shifts to San Antonio?
Miami looked gassed in the fourth quarter, while San Antonio looked every bit like a team coming off a nine-day rest. Fatigue shouldn't be an issue going forward with both teams back on even ground.
The sky isn't falling. James hasn't gone anywhere, and he should be even better with two days to review footage of his passive triple-double—a phrase, by the way, that makes its way into the lexicon of only the game's all-time greats.
The pundits can ponder over the lingering effects of Thursday night's loss; that's what they're paid to do.
But the Heat left that game behind them as soon as the final buzzer sounded. And with 48 minutes of convincing, the pundits could very well follow suit after Sunday night.
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