Welp. That was weird.
There’s really not much else you can say after Game 1 of the highly anticipated 2014 NBA Finals. Nobody should be fishing for story lines after a game filled with broken air conditioning systems, Ray Allen posterizations and the return of LeBron James‘ cramping. Only this time, “The Cramp Game” wasn’t a game in which LeBron was able to come back, but an excuse for irrational LeBron hate to spread through Twitter like, well, a nasty cramp. If you’re in that camp, do everyone a favor and hydrate yourself.
While it was pretty unsettling to see a man we suspect of being a cyborg have to be carried off the court, I guess he is human and it happens to all of us. When the guys in suits on the sidelines are dripping with sweat, you know the guys on the court are feeling the heat. LeBron was actually probably missing Lance Stephenson last night.
— ESPN (@espn) June 6, 2014
LeBron led all scorers with 25 points, six rebounds and three steals, but his permanent exit for the game’s final 3:59 ultimately doomed the Heat, which is even more ironic considering we were all worrying about Dwyane Wade‘s health before the series began. Wade had 19 points and Chris Bosh added 18, but the Spurs were able to close Game 1 on a 31-9 run, going 10-of-12 from the field compared to Miami’s 4-of-10 from the floor. After being outscored 29-20 in the third and looking doomed by their own careless turnovers, the Spurs put up a monster fourth quarter performance, outscoring the Heat 36-17 in the period.
There was a lot at stake in Game 1. Although the Spurs won Game 1 of the Finals last year and ended up losing in seven, this year they have home court advantage and thanks to the change back to the 2-2-1-1-1 format, they needed to protect their home court to avoid giving the advantage back to the road team. The Spurs were 5-0 in Game 1s of the NBA Finals and improved to 6-0 last night thanks to their resurgent fourth quarter.
Manu Ginobili got things started for the Spurs, knocking down three threes in the first quarter to get the crowd fired up. While LeBron reached 1,000 career assists in the postseason, the Spurs took a five-point lead at the half. Tim Duncan led the Spurs in the game with 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting, Tony Parker added 19 points and eight assists and five Spurs finished with at least 13 points.
Kawhi Leonard and Mario Chalmers battled foul trouble for most of the game, but a ton of Spurs turnovers in the third quarter gave the Heat a four-point advantage heading into the final period. Halfway through the fourth quarter, LeBron’s leg cramped up on him and he limped to the bench. He came back in a few minutes later and immediately scored a layup, but he immediately had to be carried off the court and remained there for the rest of the game.
Game 1 winner of the NBA Finals goes on to win the series 70.1 percent of the time (47-20)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 6, 2014
After being the only ice cold thing in the building for the first three quarters, Danny Green came to life, scoring 11 of his 13 in the fourth. Kawhi Leonard banged in a triple that put San Antonio up seven with 1:43 to play, the Heat turned the ball over and Tony Parker buried Miami with a dagger three. Let the A/C conspiracy theories begin, but no matter what the score still reads 1-0 San Antonio in the 2014 NBA Finals.
So what can we take from such an odd start to this rematch championship series? We certainly don’t want to read into it too much, since everyone’s hoping the A/C will be fixed for Game 2 and that LeBron will be able to play to his full abilities (because honestly, Spurs fans, deep down you know you don’t want to win if LeBron James is on the bench the whole series). But there still are five things we can take away from Game 1 that could become major factors in such a tight series moving forward.