Miami led virtually the whole way until midway through the 4th quarter, but the Spurs kept hanging around until they found a way to seize the game in the end.
The biggest play came when Tony Parker was able to bank in a desperation shot on a broken play with LeBron James all over him with just 5.2 seconds left, giving San Antonio a four point lead and the game. Replays showed he just barely got the shot off before the 24-second shot clock expired.
Parker led the Spurs with 21 points for the night, and Tim Duncan added 20 points and 14 rebounds.
LeBron James had a triple-double with 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists, but is now 0-5 in Finals games against the Spurs. James’ Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by San Antonio in the 2007 NBA Finals.
The Spurs, in fact, have won all four Finals series they’ve appeared in, winning the title in 1999, 2003, 2005, and 2007.
The Heat are 2-1 all-time, winning in 2006 and 2012, but losing in 2011 to Dallas.
“We got a little bit lucky in Game 1,” Parker said. “Sometimes that’s what it takes to win games.”
“It doesn’t matter how we’re categorized — old, veterans, whatever you call us, we’re in the mix,” added the 37-year-old Duncan.
“The Spurs are the Spurs”, observed James. “They’re going to put you in positions where you feel uncomfortable offensively and defensively, and every time you make a mistake, they’re going to capitalize on it.”
The two teams are quite a study in contrast. Rarely has a sports team as consistently good as the Spurs have been over the last 15 years been able to maintain such a low profile. They aren’t flashy, and never ask for attention.
The Heat, on the other hand, always seem to be in the spotlight from the moment James and Chris Bosh signed up to join Dwayne Wade to form the “Big-Three” in Miami.
The Heat were a 66-win juggernaut this season, and most experts predicted a second-straight Miami title with a win over the Spurs in this series. But if Game 1 showed anything, it’s clear San Antonio will be no pushover. This team knows how to win Finals games, even when they get outplayed for most of the game.
It was also clear the Spurs showed no rust from their nine-day layoff after sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference Finals.
Miami looked fatigued in the fourth quarter, possibly a result of their grueling seven-game series with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Spurs’ Game 1 win in Miami means they now have the home-court advantage in the series. After Game 2 Sunday in Miami the next three games will be in San Antonio. Image/AP