Per Odds Shark, the San Antonio Spurs are four-point favorites in Game 2 over the Miami Heat, and that likely has nothing to do with LeBron James' leg cramps in Game 1. Let's not forget, the Spurs are at home, and they did have the best record in the NBA during the regular season.
That said, barring another bout with leg cramps for the game's best player, bettors may want to take the underdog in Game 2.
If there's ever been an NBA Finals loss with a silver lining, it should be the Heat's defeat in Game 1. Miami should be disappointed that an opportunity to take a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals went by the boards, but it shouldn't be panicking.
As a matter of fact, the champions should be excited about their prospects of winning a third straight NBA championship.
The Numbers and The Cramps
James' physical issues are obviously going to get the majority of the press, but the Spurs' shooting was just as big of a story. Check out this graphic from NBA.com Stats:
The blandly brilliant head coach of the Spurs, Gregg Popovich, hit it on the head with this quote, per Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald.
Popovich on Spurs turnovers last night: "We escaped last night by shooting the ball the way we did, I guess."— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) June 6, 2014
Will San Antonio shoot 58 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc again in the series? The chances of that happening again are pretty slim.
While the final margin of victory on Thursday was 15 points, the game was indeed closer than the score would indicate. In fact, it's not crazy to suggest that were it not for LeBron's injury, the Heat would have won.
James' presence could have led to momentum shifts, more efficient offensive trips and better rotation on the Spurs' shooters in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, the Heat forced 22 turnovers with their ball pressure, and Miami shot 47.4 percent from the field, 41 percent from three and 81.8 percent from the free-throw line. That's a pretty sharp performance from the Heat, only they didn't close because their closer was on the sidelines.
This tweet and graphic from ESPN Stats & Info confirms what the deciding factor in the game was.
LeBron James left Game 1 up 2 with 7:31 left in the 4th. The Spurs outscored the Heat by 17 the rest of the way pic.twitter.com/JggGfJesE3— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 6, 2014
Miami and James will respond with a champion-like performance in Game 2 to even the series. Don't be surprised if things get a lot easier for the Heat in Miami.
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