According to ESPN.com's Royce Young, an overheated circuit breaker in the AT&T Center caused temperatures to jump as high as 90 degrees. He added that players were utilizing ice packs on their necks to cool down during timeouts, while fans in the stadium were using noisemakers as makeshift personal fans.
As temperatures went up, so did the humidity. That caused players to lose more fluids and, in James' case, suffer from cramping.
Losing the opening game of the season’s final series isn't ideal, especially since the Heat held a lead in the final 12 minutes of action. The San Antonio Spurs outscored Miami 36-17 in the closing period, which included a 26-9 run to close the game with LBJ sidelined.
Fortunately for the four-time MVP, he'll benefit from two full days of rest prior to Game 2, which he expressed thanks for when speaking with a pool reporter after the game (h/t the Sun Sentinel's Ira Winderman):
I need it, I need it, I need it. We're going to start tonight, continue to get the fluids in me and get me ready for Sunday. Thankful for the fact that I can get on it tonight, and put myself in a position where I can be out there for my team for the long haul. And sitting on the sideline, you know, if I’m not in foul trouble, is not good for us and not good for me. Look forward to Game 2 and go from there.
Having those two days to prepare both physically and mentally will be huge for LeBron. Still, that won't flip the script of a 15-point loss.
James noted obvious frustrations postgame:
It's frustration and anger, but at the same time it's something that you try to prevent, you try to control. I mean, I got all the fluids I need to get, I do my normal routine I've done and it was inevitable for me tonight, throughout the conditions, you know, out there on the floor. I lost all the fluids that I was putting in in the last couple of days out there on the floor. It sucks not being out there for your team, especially at this point in the season.
Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy tweeted the following quote from James:
LeBron James: "I'm feeling better than I did when I came off the floor. So, doing better."— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 6, 2014
While it's a good sign that Miami's best player was recuperating from his cramps, everything depends on whether he'll be 100 percent for Sunday’s Game 2.
Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk wrote the following of James' impact in Game 1 and the importance of bouncing back in the next affair:
LeBron had a +/- of zero for the game—the Heat played the Spurs even when he was on the court in Game 1. They lost by 15. The Heat have won every playoff series in the big three era where they have lost Game 1, but against these Spurs the Heat cannot afford to go down 2-0.
The loss of air conditioning was a huge X-factor working against both teams. There's still no guarantee it will be fixed in time for Game 2. However, NBA Vice President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn added a glimmer of hope when speaking with the media:
At this time it is our feeling very strongly that it will be fixed and there will not be a problem. If something were to transpire over the course of, let's say, tomorrow, where we felt maybe we wouldn't be able to play for some reason, then obviously we would look at (a different venue).
But as of right now we feel as I said, very strongly that the condition will be taken care of, and we'll be able to play on Sunday without any problem.
Miami couldn't close out the road game due to a variety of unorthodox circumstances—which included great overall play from San Antonio.
Nevertheless, Erik Spoelstra's crew can still reach its goal of winning a third straight championship.
As long as James prepares himself properly in the coming days, he should be back to normal. San Antonio will have to prepare for a fully healthy Heat roster if it hopes to build a 2-0 series lead.