As much as the Miami Heat need a win on their home floor in the second game of the 2013 NBA Finals, the Spurs need one just as badly.
LeBron James was held relatively in check offensively in the series opener, but he cannot be contained throughout a seven-game series. That’s true now more than ever thanks to the all-star supporting cast that the King has in South Beach.
Deferring to them too much in Game 1, James will undoubtedly take a much more active offensive role throughout the rest of the series.
No, this is not the 2007 NBA Finals, when San Antonio steamrolled its way through the James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. James now has the players he needs on the floor with him to create opportunities while still playing a dominant offensive role for the team.
Sure, they need to play better, but he needs to be more aggressive as well.
The rested Spurs wore down the defending champs in the fourth quarter of Game 1, when they’re usually at their best. After having two days off, the home team will surge back well-rested and ready to even the series before things shift to San Antonio for three games.
This Miami team has lost three previous Game 1 matchups, and all of them have resulted in the Heat securing four straight wins to finish the series. On the other hand, the Spurs have been phenomenal in finals openers. In five trips to the championship round, they have now won all five opening games. Those previous four Game 1 wins resulted in NBA titles.
The Spurs have also done pretty well for themselves in the playoffs after winning Game 1 under Gregg Popovich, according to ESPN Stats and Info:
Does anyone think the Spurs can sweep three games in a row, even on their home court, from a Miami Heat team that hasn’t lost back-to-back games since January? If this series comes back to Miami with the title riding on it, defeating the Heat will be an arduous endeavor.
Looking at history, the chances of sweeping at home aren’t very good for the four-time champions. Just three teams during the 13-year life of the 2-3-2 NBA Finals series format have won three consecutive home games.
There’s also the fact that this Heat squad hasn’t lost three straight contests since January 2012.
The longer this series goes, the more it benefits the star-studded Heat. The Spurs crushing their will and motivation with a win in Game 2, before they have a chance to rebound, could prevent that.
Since James made his "Decision," the South Beach All-Stars haven’t lost a Game 7. It’s one thing to steal a victory or two from them, but it’s quite another to find success over the stretch of a seven-game series.
Then again, every game in a finals series is significant. This one is just a little more crucial because of the implications for both teams.
One thing is certain: Sunday night is going to be another tooth-and-nail battle between the two best teams the league has to offer.