New England Sports React

Over Heated

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LeBron’s departure sent the Heat’s chances of winning Game 1 up in flames.

They say if you can’t take the heat, get outta the street. Or, in this case, get outta the building.

Thursday night in San Antonio, it was the latter, as an A/C-less AT&T Center proved too much for LeBron James and the defending NBA Champions. Spurred (no pun intended) by a 31-9 fourth quarter run, the Spurs pulled away from the Heat in what was, at one point, a back-and-forth game. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and most notably Danny Green (34 points, 6-6 3PFG) led the way, with Green in particular coming up big down the stretch. A breakaway dunk with a defender bearing down, getting open for threes when plays appeared to be marked for disaster: Green did it all. Danny helped the Spurs pull away but also came up big when the game was close. With King James scoring at will at the other end, Green maintained his poise and buried shot-after-shot from downtown. His performance was inspiring no doubt, but it remains to be seen whether he can maintain that play over the course of the series, especially with defenders likely to be drawn his way. He certainly won’t get the open looks he got in Game 1, that’s for sure.

Besides Green’s effort, the Spurs managed to build a lead once LeBron left the game with 7:20 left in the fourth quarter. James appeared to be experiencing cramps in his right thigh (likely due to the extreme heat), and with the momentum clearly in San Antonio’s favor, Erik Spoelstra decided to sit down his best player and protect his health for the remainder of the Finals. His absence wasn’t the only reason Miami lost Thursday, but it was a big part of it. While James managed a pedestrian 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting, when the game was close in the third quarter he was “on.” LeBron was clearly in control of his game, dominating in the low post while showing an outside touch as well. When he got going, so did the rest of the team. As LeBron goes, so go the Heat, and never was that more evident than midway through the fourth quarter following the superstar’s departure. Miami’s wheels came off as they were out-of-sync on both sides of the ball, turning the ball over numerous times and countlessly getting caught out of position. With San Antonio’s hot shooting, the game quickly got away from Miami. With James likely to be ready for Game 2, the Spurs better watch out. They showed no signs of slowing down the King in Game 1, and given his team’s 1-0 series deficit LeBron is likely to bring his ‘A’ game.

In no way is this series over. As evidenced by the competitive third quarter, this series is going to be a battle, a fight to the finish. The question is, can the Spurs’ experience match the Heat’s firepower, or will Miami’s ‘Big Three’ be too much for San Antonio’s aging lineup?

-Ryan Hartley

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