The San Antonio Spurs watched as LeBron James succumbed to cramping issues midway through the fourth quarter of Game 1. With the best player in the world on the bench, the Miami Heat were no match for the hot-shooting home team down the stretch.
Although issues with the air conditioning took center stage, the Spurs picked up a very important victory. The best teams from their respective conferences look very evenly matched for a second straight year. Losing home-court advantage right away would have been a major setback.
Ultimately, aside from myriad storylines throughout the opener, on the most basic level San Antonio simply defended home court. With that in mind, let's check out some odds as well as an updated outlook for the rest of the series.
Game 2: Spurs -4.5 (via Odds Shark)
Win Title: Spurs 1-2, Heat 17-10 (via Oddschecker)
Updated Finals Outlook
One story that quickly got lost in the shuffle was Tony Parker's ankle. There was concern about what type of production he could provide after missing the second half and overtime of the Spurs' clinching victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the semifinals.
Parker ended up playing 37 minutes—the most of any player on either team—and didn't show any lingering effects from the injury. He scored 19 points, often attacking the paint with his usual vigor, and dished out eight assists.
The NBA on ESPN team passed along comments from San Antonio's point guard after the game. He suggested that the Spurs' international experience helped with the unusual heat situation:
Another great sign for the Spurs was the interior play on the offensive end by Tim Duncan. He missed just a single shot from the field en route to 21 points and 10 rebounds. That efficiency helped keep San Antonio close under the final surge in the fourth.
It's a problem for the Heat. Duncan is a very tough matchup for both Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Udonis Haslem get some playing time in Game 2 in an attempt to get more physical in the post.
That said, the Heat shouldn't get too down about their performance in Game 1. They were competitive throughout and if James didn't get forced to the bench, the result may have been different.
ESPN Stats and Info provided the numbers after the four-time MVP exited for the first time due to cramping:
It's hard to say James' presence would have completely stopped the red-hot San Antonio offense, but without him the Heat crumbled.
Assuming he can stay healthy the rest of the way, Miami should be far more competitive in those key situations down the stretch.
Ultimately, Game 1 exceeded the hype in large part because of all the different factors in play. That said, the outlook remains much the same. San Antonio maintained the home-court edge and should be viewed as the slight favorites to win an extended series.
In Game 2, Miami must focus on doing a better job of defending the perimeter. If the Heat are able to force Manu Ginobili and Co. into more contested jumpers from beyond the arc, they will have a good chance to get back level.
It's easier said than done, of course. San Antonio's offense is running like a well-oiled machine right now. Expect that to continue in Game 2 on Sunday.
Series Prediction: Spurs in 6