The NBA Finals are back and hotter than ever. The young, strong and powerful Miami Heat met up with the grizzled veterans and four-time champion San Antonio Spurs for game one Thursday night at American Airlines Arena. LeBron James finished the Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana by laying it all out on the court, and he did so again in this NBA Finals game one matchup. King James had 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists for his third ever NBA Finals triple-double, but it was not enough.
Six years after San Antonio beat a young LeBron and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammates in the NBA Finals, James is at the top of his game. But the methodical and patient San Antonio team has been playing together seemingly forever. That teamwork paid off, and effectively negated an incredible game one performance by LeBron. But Tony Parker put on a dazzling 24 second display which included both incredible and sloppy ball control, hitting an off-balance, off-the-backboard shot with 0.1 seconds remaining on the shot clock to give the Spurs a four point lead with only 5.2 seconds remaining.
That was enough to hang on for the victory, and stealing the first game from the favored Miami Heat in their own gym is huge for the Spurs. LeBron is now 0-5 against San Antonio in NBA Finals play, though the first four losses came when he pretty much single-handedly took an un-talented Cleveland team to the championship matchup all by himself. The Miami Heat is known for the Big 3 of LeBron, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, but it was the underappreciated 10 championship ring wearing trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili that ended up on top.
With typical patience, control and a stifling defense, the San Antonio Spurs committed only four turnovers in the entire game. But it is exactly that defense which caused the Miami Heat to turn the ball over five times in the fourth quarter alone. That set the stage for Tony Parker’s 24 second one-man show, and San Antonio can now rest and prepare for game two Sunday in Miami. Miami Heat forward Shane Battier said, “We have to beat them,” following that up by pointing out that the Spurs simply will not beat themselves.
Parker led the way for the Spurs with 21 points, but it was probably the veteran Duncan’s 20 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 huge block shots which set the tone for the Spurs victory. As starting center for the Heat, Chris Bosh pulled down only five rebounds and added 13 points. An injured Dwayne Wade added 17 points, but managed only 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Sunday night in Miami at 8 PM the Miami Heat had better be fired up, because after that game is three in a row in San Antonio where the Spurs can close out the NBA Finals 2013 matchup.