As the 2014 NBA Finals began, we had one major question — which team was going to cement their place in history? Would the San Antonio Spurs win their fifth championship under Gregg Popovich and become one of the elite (if they aren’t already) teams in NBA history? Or, would the Miami Heat, who were making their fourth consecutive NBA Finals appearance, win their third consecutive championship — a feat that had been done by just two other franchises in the modern era? The Spurs took one big step towards their goal with a 110-95 win on Thursday night in Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals.
Tim Duncan led the way with 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists as the Spurs (and everyone in the arena) had to deal with the lack of air conditioning in the AT&T Center. Tony Parker scored 19 points with eight assists and Manu Ginobili added 16 points, five rebounds, 11 assists and three steals off the bench.
While the air was the story during the game, LeBron James and his cramping may be the story of the series. He ended up leaving the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be hamstring cramps and after a short return, he wasn’t able to finish the game. The Spurs went on a 23-7 run in the final 5:35 to ice (heh) the game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ginobili was every bit the future Hall-of-Famer we know he’ll be tonight. Not only was he able to shoot well and play respectable defense, but he provided a second playmaker when Parker wasn’t able to get things going. Ginobili finished with a plus-22 rating, which was second only to our X-Factor.
How about Boris Diaw? Despite the fact his scoring numbers weren’t solid, anyone who watched the game would tell you that Diaw made a major difference. He finished with just two points but his 10 rebounds, six assists and timely plays enabled him to rack up a game-high plus-30 rating.
The Spurs turned the ball over 22 times and will definitely need to deal with that number if they expect to win the series, because they won’t shoot 58.8 percent throughout the rest of the series. For the Heat, defense turns into offense and while they were able to turn those 22 turnovers into 28 points, they couldn’t stop the Spurs from getting whatever shot they wanted. Game 2 is Sunday night from AT&T Center, where hopefully the air conditioning won’t be an issue again.