Photo Credit: NBA/Getty Images
Photo Credit: NBA/Getty Images
The San Antonio Spurs picked up where the team left off from the 2007 NBA Finals – beating a Lebron James led team. The Silver and Black defeated the Miami Heat 92 – 88 on June 6 in the American Airlines Arena.
“We’re here to win. It doesn’t matter how we’re categorized,” said Spurs’ power forward Tim Duncan. “It’s been a lot of years since we’ve been here. We’re just happy to be back here. Old veterans, whatever you want to call us. We’re in the mix right now. It’s just great to get the first game under our belts.”
The Spurs hadn’t played a game since sweeping the Memphis Grizzlies for the Western Conference Championship on May 27, and the question being asked of San Antonio entering Game 1 was rest verses rust. After a Spurs turnover during the first possession, San Antonio scored nine straight points against the Heat. Duncan – the third oldest player in NBA history to record at least 20 points and grab 14 rebounds – played with more rust than rest, as he missed his first five shots and was benched late in the first quarter with two personal fouls.
“I didn’t change anything, honestly. The first five shots I got were all good shots actually minus one,” said Duncan. “The first four shots were really good shots. Shots I usually make. Shots I’m comfortable taking. So I didn’t change anything about it. I think I got a lay up to go, and that kind of changed it for me and just kind of went from there.”
When Duncan returned in the second quarter, the Miami Heat were leading 38-29. After making an inside shot, Duncan ended the half and the second quarter with 12 points. He finished the game with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.
The Heat outscored and outrebounded the Spurs in the first half and led for the majority of the third until Spurs guard Tony Parker made two free throws that gave the Spurs a 77-76 lead, the first lead the Spurs had of the second half, with 7:47 left in the third.
“The Spurs are the Spurs. They’re going to put you in positions where you feel uncomfortable offensively and defensively,” said Miami Heat forward Lebron James. “And every time you make a mistake, they’re going to capitalize on it.”
Heading into the fourth, the Heat held a three-point lead, but the Spurs turned up the defense and limited the Heat to only 7 points in the first 8 ½ minutes. However, James finished the game with a triple-double, 18 points, 18 rebounds, and 10 assists. James became the third player in NBA history to record a triple-double in consecutive Finals appearances, dating back to last year’s Finals when James recorded a triple-double against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“Nobody is going to stop LeBron James for all the reasons that we all know, but to try to make him work and maybe deny a catch here and there is important,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.
The play of the night and possibly of the season came when Spurs guard Tony Parker penetrated the Heat’s defense, fell, lost his dribble, and swarmed by James, banked in a shot with 5.2 seconds left in the game, which sealed the Game 1 victory for the San Antonio Spurs.
“Tony’s shot is one of those things that happens sometimes,” said guard Manu Ginobili said. “We got lucky today.”
The Spurs will try to extend their luck against the Heat in Game 2 on Sunday at 7 pm on ABC.