A Game 1 loss on their home court put the Miami Heat in a rough spot, but don't count on them to dig a deeper hole this Sunday night.
In the closely contested opener of the NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs secured the victory to take a 1-0 advantage. Through Kawhi Leonard's tenacious defense on LeBron James and a little bit of luck from Tony Parker, San Antonio stripped away Miami's home-court advantage in a 92-88 win.
The Spurs are mighty good when it comes to the first game of the finals. As ESPN Stats & Info pointed out, no team is better at taking the early championship lead.
Although anyone still convinced that Miami will run away with the series probably has not been watching closely, it's still a good bet that the Heat will even up the score before flying to Texas.
For starters, the law of averages puts it in Miami's favor to balance the series. While the Spurs reminded the world that they are for real, both teams matched up evenly. So many microscopic specs go into settling such a close score. What if Parker did not bank that wild, improvised jumper after falling down?
San Antonio was the superior team on Thursday but only by mere inches. They escaped with two overtime wins over the Memphis Grizzlies and one post-regulation triumph against the Golden State Warriors, but that style is hard to maintain over the long haul. Especially with James on the other side.
Eventually, San Antonio will falter in one of those close bouts. It may not happen four times, but it should happen once against a 66-win team desperate for a victory at home.
Winning two straight against Miami is a massive undertaking. The Heat have not dropped two in a row since early January, when they fell to the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 8 and 10. Since then, Miami has played 65 times, following each of its nine losses with a W.
One-third of those defeats came during the Eastern Conference Finals, which tested Miami's resiliency when the team could no longer easily bully the other squad. The Heat answered all three losses with double-digit victories.
Also somewhat encouraging is the fact that Miami nearly won despite receiving just 48 points from its top trio. If James can muster 25 points (which is below average for him) instead of 18 while Chris Bosh sinks an open jumper, the Heat are in much better shape.
Of course, nothing can be predicted with certainty. The bad version of Dwyane Wade could show up, they could shoot even worse than Game 1's 32 percent from beyond the arc, Manu Ginobili could go off or James could break his leg in the first quarter. There are tons of plausible scenarios leading to another San Antonio victory.
The most rational signs, however, point to Miami tying the series. The Heat are too good to go down without a fight.