It took San Antonio all 48 minutes, but they did it. The Spurs found a way to outlast the Heat to take Game 1 by the score of 92-88.
But it wasn’t that easy as the score might look.
The Spurs shot 42% from the floor and trailed the majority of a game that looked to be Miami’s to win. LeBron James had 18 points (7 for 16 shooting), 18 rebounds and 10 assists for a triple-double, making so many things happen for others as Kawhi Leonard and the Spurs paid close attention to James whether he had the ball or not. His teammates answered the call and put forth a solid effort. That was until the final stanza. Dwyane Wade scored 17 points for the Heat but was shut out in the fourth quarter. Chris Bosh had only two of his 13 in the final period.
Even with the lead for the majority of the game, Miami never looked like they had control minus one point in the first half where they mounted a nine point lead. But when the Spurs snatched the the lead 77-76 in the early part of the fourth quarter, they gripped it firmly and never looked back, with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan leading the charge. And with the time winding down and outcome still in question, the Spurs again looked to Parker to take them home to victory and that he did by hitting an improbable 15-foot bank shot with seconds left.
What’s equally impressive is watching “Coach Tony” take over the huddle for his team with five seconds on the clock. The move speaks to the Spurs, their system and the strong relationship that’s grown over the years between the point guard and head coach Greg Popovich. As the legend goes, Parker’s the guy Pop originally didn’t want to draft and labeled him too soft when the coach watched French guard at a predraft camp in 2001. Now, Parker’s the guy Pop knows can lead the troops.
When all is said and done, the Spurs aren’t out of the woods yet as Game 2 will be in Miami on Sunday. And the Heat aren’t buried, yet either. In last year’s Finals, they lost the opener to Oklahoma City before sweeping the next four. In fact, Miami’s Big Three have won every series that they’ve lost the first game. And they won them in 5 (Bulls in 2011, Thunder last year, Bulls this year). On the other side of the equation, Popovich is 20-3 in series where he wins the first game.
How will this Finals end? It’s one we’ll definitely have to watch to see. If the rest of the games are played like Thursday night’s, we’re in for one amazing series.
P.S. – Thanks to everyone who joined in to make Game 1′s open thread a big success and a lot of fun. See you on Sunday!