Through two games, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs have lived up to the hype.
Although Game 2 eventually spiraled into a blowout after the Heat controlled the last 15 minutes, the first two contests have provided scintillating, well-played, clean basketball.
And while the role players (I'm looking at you, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Mario Chalmers and Chris "pppprrrrr" "Birdman" Anderson) have proven crucial in each team's win, the stars have been the centerpiece—for better or worse—of the opening 96 minutes.
Let's take a closer look at how the big boys have performed.
LeBron James: A-
Early on in Game 2, King James was in the midst of what appeared was going to be the worst shooting night of his spectacular season:
LeBron James has missed 10 of his first 12 shots, including all 5 attempts in the paint.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 10, 2013
Then, you know, he made his next five shots, continued to get his teammates open looks and ended Tiago Splitter's career (and the game) with arguably the block of the year:
When it was all said and done, James, in what many were quick to label an "off night," finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists (to just two turnovers), three steals and three blocks.
Oh, and when he was on the court, the Heat were plus-29.
Through two games, the only thing you can dock him for is his shooting. Despite making his final five attempts Sunday, he still sits at just 42.4 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from beyond the arc.
That inconsistency has allowed Leonard or Green to take a step away from him defensively, thus better rendering the drive, and it will be something to watch going forward.
Fascinating that in LeBron's first year as a 40-percent 3pt shooter, the Spurs are giving him that shot. Yet only two real attempts tonight.— Couper Moorhead (@CoupNBA) June 10, 2013
Still, as all great superstars do, he has found a way to beat the Spurs, averaging 17.5 points, 13.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks through two games with a plus/minus of plus-13.
Dwyane Wade: C
For the second game in a row, Dwyane Wade came out with an aggressive, rim-attacking mindset in the first half and made a positive impact:
So far, the Heat have scored 7 pts on drives to the basket by Dwyane Wade (3-5 FG) compared to 4 on his drives in Game 1 (2-8 FG)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 10, 2013
But despite heading into the locker room with 10 points and four assists, the struggling veteran disappeared in the second half and finished with 10 points and six dimes.
After two games, his splits are Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-esque:
|PTS||FG%||REB||AST||Stl||Blk||Off Rating||Def Rating|
Overall, he is averaging 13.5 points on 42.9 percent shooting to go with 2.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.5 steals and 0.5 blocks. The Heat have been outscored by seven points during the 65 minutes he has been in the game.
wade looks like he just finished a 48-minute game. not like a guy with a half to go.— Holly MacKenzie (@stackmack) June 10, 2013
The 31-year-old has battled injuries all year, and through two games, he has only been able to make an imprint—albeit a solid one—on half of the game.
Tony Parker: B
In Game 1, Tony Parker finished off his 21-point, 50 percent shooting, six-assist, zero-turnover night with a shot that will likely go down in finals lore:
Unfortunately for the Spurs, he followed that up with a dud Sunday, shooting just 5-of-14 for 13 points, five assists and five turnovers.
And it gets worse:
Tony Parker's -27 plus/minus rating in Game 2 was his worst this postseason. His previous low was -13 vs Warriors on May 12.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 10, 2013
Still, if it weren't for Parker's fourth-quarter performance in Game 1 (10 points, one assist, one steal, the shot), the Spurs would be down 2-0 heading back to San Antonio. Single-handedly turning a finals game like that boosts his grade despite Sunday's ugly performance.
Tim Duncan: B-
Much like with Parker, it has been a tale of two games for the slow-aging Tim Duncan.
In Game 1, he went for 20 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. On Sunday, he had just nine points (on 3-of-13 shooting), 11 rebounds, one assist and zero blocks.
Unsurprisingly, the latter was a new low for the future Hall of Famer:
The Big Fundamental had the worst NBA Finals game of his brilliant career. Tim Duncan was 3-13 FG, 23.1%. (h/t @ESPNStatsInfo)— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 10, 2013
What grade would give Tim Duncan for his first two games?
But while his overall numbers (14.5 points, 34.4 percent shooting, 12.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 blocks) are pedestrian on the surface, Duncan's impact on the game has been generally positive—his minus-2.5 is the best among Spurs who have played more than 20 total minutes through two games.
Still, while The Big Fundamental has been solid defensively and on the glass, San Antonio will have a minuscule chance at hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy if he continues to shoot this poorly.
Note: All stats courtesy of NBA.com unless noted otherwise