Here are five takeaways from the San Antonio Spurs’ 110-95 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals:
1. LeBron James’ body will be the story of the next 48 hours. The Heat star said he was already feeling better after a game in which he sat out the final 3 minutes 59 seconds because of severe cramps brought on by dehydration and the sauna-like conditions inside the AT&T Center stemming from an air-conditioning malfunction. He tried to ward off the cramps by drinking as many fluids as possible and even changing his jersey at halftime to rid himself of the accumulated sweat. But his body essentially locked up on him after he drove for a layup that trimmed the Spurs’ lead to two points with 4:09 left. He had to remain along the baseline as play continued. “Any step or nudge,” James said, “it would get worse. It would lock up worse and my muscles spasmed 10 out of 10. Best thing for me to do was just not to move.” James finished with 25 points and six assists in 32 minutes and you can rest assured he will be receiving the full attention of the Heat’s medical staff before Game 2 on Sunday.
2. Here’s guessing the air-conditioning system will be fixed for Game 2. According to building officials, the air-conditioning outage was caused by an electrical failure for the power that runs the system. Even though temperatures hovered around a reported 88 degrees on the court, there was no consideration of delaying or postponing the game until the power source was fixed. James compared it to a high school game and the Spurs’ Tony Parker said he felt like he was playing in the European championships because they have no air conditioning. If there was ever a good time for a two-day break between games, this is it. “I’m sure that both teams are going to be happy that we have a couple of days between before the next game,” San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich said, “and hopefully we can pay our bills.”
3. Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen have plenty of game left. Allen showed he can do more than make three-pointers during one high-flying sequence in the third quarter in which he drove for consecutive layups and then topped that by stiff-arming Marco Belinelli on the way to a monstrous one-handed dunk. Wade also managed to find refuge in the lane, repeatedly driving for the kind of easy baskets that largely eluded him this time last year. The player who spent the 2013 Finals coaxing whatever he could out of his knees looked plenty nimble on one first-quarter drive around Tim Duncan in which he finished over Manu Ginobili for a layup. Wade scored 19 points and Allen had 16, though Allen missed his final five three-point shots after making his first three attempts from beyond the arc. Wade made one of three three-pointers after not attempting a single shot from beyond the arc in the Finals last year.
4. Boris Diaw scored two points on one-of-five shooting … and was still huge. The San Antonio veteran forward’s ball movement was impeccable as he continually passed up good shots to find his teammates better opportunities. He had 10 rebounds and six assists, finding Duncan for a dunk on a drive and dish as well as later setting up a three-point play by making an inbounds pass that Ginobili took for a layup while being fouled. Diaw's plus-minus rating of plus-30 was the best of any player in the game. Incidentally, the Spurs’ lineup with Diaw, Parker, Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and Ginobili has been nearly unstoppable in the playoffs, and Diaw is a big reason why because of his smart, unselfish play.
5. Game 1 results can be overrated. Since 1984, the winner of Game 1 of the Finals has won 20 of the 30 series. However, in each of the last three Finals, the winner of the series opener has gone on to lose the Finals. Miami is 1-4 in Finals Game 1s, but each time the Heat previously the series opener (in 2006, 2012 and 2013) it went on to win the Finals. Duncan improved to 6-0 in the opening game of the Finals and has won titles in four of his previous five trips. In Finals history, the winner of Game 1 has won the series 47 times and lost 20 times. The Lakers were the last team to win a Game 1 of the Finals and the series, doing so in 2010 after beating the Boston Celtics in the opener.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times