Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs should dictate how the rest of this championship rematch will play out. The Heat are in danger of falling behind 0-2 and all but dashing their hopes at a three-peat. But a win at AT&T Center on Sunday would send them back to South Beach needing to only hold down home-court advantage to take a 3-1 edge in the series.
San Antonio's window to win another title with its current foundation is closing, and it's an excellent feat to have even returned to the Finals after losing to Miami in seven games last year. Although the Larry O'Brien Trophy is just three wins away, all the pressure rests on the Spurs to take care of business at home in Game 2.
Both of these squads are rich with Finals experience, so neither will crumble under the pressure. Heat superstar LeBron James cramped up amid hot conditions in Game 1, but barring a setback of that sort, Game 2 should have a closer outcome than the 110-95 win San Antonio rolled to in the opener.
Here is a look at the viewing information for Sunday's action, along with a breakdown of what to expect as these elite franchises continue battling for pro basketball's top prize.
|Date||Time (ET)||TV||Live Stream||Odds|
|Sunday, June 8||8 p.m.||ABC||ABC.go.com||Spurs (-4)|
Source: NBA.com, OddsShark.com
2014 NBA Finals Game 2 Preview and Prediction
It makes sense that the Spurs are slight favorites at home, but they're given barely more than one possession. James is going to be eager as ever to put his detractors in their places following the cramping controversy.
SportsCenter's official Twitter account recorded some interesting comments James made regarding the fiasco:
"I know I'm the easiest target that we have in sports." - LeBron James— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 6, 2014
Whenever there's some sort of negative force pushing against him, it seems James rises to the occasion. In the Heat's quest for a third straight title, he will do everything in his power to prevent them from losing a grip on this series.
ESPN Stats and Info noted how well the Heat were playing before James exited the floor in the fourth quarter of Game 1:
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
But it's also worth bearing in mind that San Antonio had a shocking, uncharacteristic 23 total turnovers in the opening contest. That the Spurs were still able to be in a position to pull away late was rather miraculous. Legendary forward Tim Duncan was 9-of-10 shooting, dominating the post en route to 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Tiago Splitter even pitched in 14 points for the victors, and Boris Diaw, though not a factor in filling it up, pulled down 10 boards and dished out six assists with some exceptional interior passing. Those are all the biggest impediments to Miami getting back into this series.
Ball movement and execution in half-court sets were the way to winning for coach Gregg Popovich's Spurs, as they assisted on 30 of 40 field goals. It's hard to expect that type of greatness for a second straight time—especially such a scintillating fourth quarter. Lang Greene of BasketballInsiders.com provided his analysis in this vein:
Spurs dominated in mostly every aspect in game one of the Finals,but still needed a 31-9 run to gain separation. Game two will be fun.— Lang Greene (@LangGreene) June 7, 2014
The Heat are a better defensive squad than that, and will prove it by upping the intensity in Game 2.
One factor that got lost in the broken AT&T Center air conditioning was the fact that Miami point guard Mario Chalmers was a non-factor. Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick reported on Chalmers' state after he played just 17 minutes due to serious foul trouble and had three points, three steals, one assist and five turnovers:
Heat players worried about Chalmers' psyche ("he's sideways," one said), & trying to keep his head up.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) June 7, 2014
Chalmers is a glue guy on the perimeter, a slasher and a player not afraid to step up in the limelight. The Spurs took him out of his element, but he should bounce back with his capable supporting cast helping him.
This game should come more down to the wire than the opener. In that situation, James and Dwyane Wade are most dangerous, particularly in an instance where they desperately need a win.
Chris Bosh will play like an All-Star and be more assertive in the paint—because he'll have to. The Heat's trend of bouncing back strong will continue (h/t NBA.com):
Prediction: Heat 98, Spurs 93
Which star will shine brightest in Game 2?
When the Heat manage to knot things up, it will set up what should evolve into another fantastic seven-game battle between two of the best teams in recent memory. This time, the Spurs have home-court advantage on their side. Whether that's enough to get it done remains to be seen. A lot will depend on if San Antonio can travel well and steal a game in South Beach.
Legacies are on the line here, as well as the future of the formidable nuclei of each team involved. Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker may not have another run in them together. James, Wade and Bosh could all split after this postseason, and would likely have more incentive to do so if they come out of these Finals on the losing end.
Whatever happens, it's going to be compelling if the Heat do indeed grind out a gutsy Game 2 victory. Should this prediction go awry, these Finals could be over sooner than expected.