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Veteran Spurs play smart, cool in fourth quarter, beat Heat 92-88 in Game 1

Jun 7, 2013, 1:21 AM EDT

First things first: This was fun. Game 1 of the NBA Finals was up-tempo, well played basketball (for the most part) by both teams. After the grind-it-out conference finals, I’ll take six more games like this one, please.

But if you’re a Heat fan you might be a little worried — the Spurs just beat you in your style of game. In your building.

Miami led by single digits most of the way, they shot 50 percent in the first half and were knocking down threes. But the veteran Spurs just hung around. Then LeBron James was held scoreless from the start of the fourth quarter to the the 3:30 mark, Chris Bosh struggled again (1-of-5 in the fourth) and behind Tony Parker the Spurs took the lead and held on for the win. In the clutch, the Spurs were unflappable and made the key plays, the Heat missed shots.

San Antonio took Game 1 92-88, and they have a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 2 is Sunday night in Miami.

As it was last series for the Heat, when LeBron was getting help Miami had the lead, but that dried up in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter when the Heat shot 27.8 percent, and the Spurs took the lead. For the game the Heat shot 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) from the midrange. The Spurs packed the paint (San Antonio shot just 50 percent on their 26 shots in the restricted area and dared anyone to beat them from the outside.

The Spurs also dared anyone not named LeBron to beat them. The Heat couldn’t.

“They did a good job of putting two guys on the ball,” LeBron James said of the Spurs defense. “When I got the ball, they kind of shrunk the floor and set a guy at the elbow and dared me to pass the ball. I know my guys will be there to knock those shots down the next game. We had some really good looks, especially in the third quarter. Rio had some very good looks. It just didn’t go down.”

LeBron finished with a triple-double — 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists. The Heat ran pretty much everything through him in the second half, having some success posting him up. But LeBron himself got his buckets near the paint and was not really knocking down outside shots, and Kawhi Leonard was making him work for his points.

Through it all the Spurs stayed disciplined. They wanted to take the ball out of LeBron’s hands, knowing he is a willing passer. It worked, by the fourth quarter LeBron passed up a couple shots he could have made but passed out.

“It’s difficult,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of staying disciplined against the Heat and LeBron, especially after the Heat knocked down shots in the first half. “One second guesses oneself often in the meat of these games, whether you stick with a certain strategy or change it. We adjusted it a little bit, but we stuck with the basics and found some ways to score. Timmy and Kawhi were great on the boards down the stretch and got us a couple of buckets.”

Tim Duncan just made plays — 20 points, 14 rebounds and he had a key offensive put back in the fourth quarter.

But this is Tony Parker’s team and he was fantastic all night — he had zero turnovers all game. Zero. As the primary ball handler. Then in a tough fourth quarter he made plays — he had 10 of his 21 in the final frame. None more dramatic than his leaner with :05 left in the game. The Spurs were up two and Parker, with LeBron guarding him, dribbled around the entire clock, slipped, held his dribble, got up and went up-and-under LeBron getting the shot of in time by a fraction of a second.

“It felt forever, too,” Parker said of the play. “It was a crazy play. I thought I lost the ball three or four times. And it didn’t work out like I wanted it to. At the end I was just trying to get a shot up. It felt good when it left my hand. I was happy it went in.”

So are the Spurs, who have taken control of this series and shown this is not a coronation for the Heat — if they want to repeat they are going to have to play much better. And as a team. Because you know the Spurs will.

  1. cpaulii - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    and that’s the way to beat the heat: no fast breaks, cherry picking and not layups. Made them shoot from the outside, no turnovers to create fast breaks.

    • sprint32 - Jun 7, 2013 at 3:45 AM

      If Spurs play like that again they wont win. Spurs were out rebounded, Heat had better shooting percentage, more free throw attempts, and only 8 t.o which 5 were in the 4th. Heat got a little winded in the 4th but controlled the game for 40 mins.

      • bucrightoff - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:34 AM

        If the Spurs play like that again, namely only turn it over 4 times, this will be a sweep.

      • southernbrother - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:27 AM

        Um, if the Spurs play like that again, I think they will win. They hung on the Heat’s heels all night and waiting for the moment to put their game on them. People who don’t follow the Spurs don’t realize what incredible execution this team is capable of.

      • gonzo1347 - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:46 AM

        Thing is sprint32, the Heat led for 40 minutes,but guess what?. You have to play 48.

      • florida727 - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:51 AM

        “controlled the game for 40 minutes”

        Don’t they play 48 of them?

      • gostlcards5 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:13 PM

        Disagree. The Heat made mistakes that they can correct. The Spurs also missed a bunch of open shots in the first half that they don’t normally miss. If the Spurs keep up the way they played last night and correct the open shots, this won’t look pretty for Miami.

    • fanofevilempire - Jun 7, 2013 at 7:36 AM

      the BIG play was Parker to his knees and hitting his shot with
      5.2 seconds left, if he loses his handle the Heat have a chance
      to tie or go for the win.
      good game, Spurs 1-0

  2. jacksonkane - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    That’s the evolution of Parker. Early in his career that would have been a turnover. Mid-career – he would have missed the shot. This is why is a legitimate MVP contender.

    • riccismiles - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:45 PM

      AGAIN! MVP CONTENDER AGAIN!

  3. deavn - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:25 AM

    Tony Parker is the real deal man. Best PG in the league. There, I said it.

    • cantonbound13 - Jun 7, 2013 at 5:40 AM

      Real MVP.

  4. mrfloydpink - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:42 AM

    It seems pretty clear at this point that LeBron James–the most overrated athlete in American sports history–is going to finish his career with one championship.*

    (* – Strike shortened season)

    • sprint32 - Jun 7, 2013 at 3:43 AM

      It seems pretty clear to me you know nothing about sports or reality in general. 1st Lebron is the best basketball player in the world, that isnt even a question. 2nd is Duncans 1st championship not count? You have played one game in the NBA so you dont know how tough it is to win 1. Every team was on the same playing field last yr and only 14 games was missed during the season idiot. 3rd telling the future I didnt know was a skill people not form Narnia could possess. Lebron has 8 yrs left at least. He will compete for rings for yrs to come. You can tell you know nothing about basketball, so leave it to the real fans.

      • mrfloydpink - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:30 AM

        Wow, hard to know where to start with this. But:

        1. Speak English, much?

        2. You know, it IS possible for LeBron James to be both overrated and the best basketball player in the world. I have no comment on the latter point, but I am confident he is VERY overrated given how often I hear people characterize him as the greatest of all time. Please.

        3. I do indeed believe that people would look askance at Duncan’s first title if he had not won any others. I know I would have. And given the age of the Heat, I think it’s fair to imagine they may have benefited more from a short season then, say, the much younger Thunder. Certainly the effect of the canceled games was NOT distributed evenly, both in terms of older/younger teams and in terms of schedule gymnastics.

        4. 14 games is 17% of the season. That’s like shortening the football season to 13 games or the baseball season to 130 games. Kind of a big difference.

        5. I am willing to predict right now, with great confidence, that Derek Fisher will also not be winning another ring. Didn’t need “Narnia powers” or anything for that one. Impressed?

        6. Don’t you think it’s a little sad to get SOOO angry and to start stooping to personal insults just because someone dared criticize LeBron James? He’s a big boy, and what does it matter to you if other people like him or not?

      • gostlcards5 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        I am in full agreement with you, sans the following point:

        2. First of all, I am by far no LeBron fan or apologist, but I don’t think I agree that he is overrated. He is monumentally great, morphing Magic and Michael into one freakishly athletic package. I don’t know how often you “hear people characterize him as the greatest of all time”, but what I generally hear is that he is in the discussion (true from an individual standpoint, still working on the team standpoint, IMO), but that you can not judge it until his body of work is complete (absolutely true).

        I do agree that he is currently not the GOAT.

    • cleekk - Jun 7, 2013 at 6:30 AM

      LeBron James is far from over-rated. I’m certainly not a fan of his, but watching game 7 of the Pacers/Heat finals, he played at an extremely high level. I haven’t checked the stats, but I am pretty sure his stats match up well with anyone else’s, but then throw in his assists and you realize he makes a lot of points and still distributes the ball – no one else in the GOAT debate comes close. That said, you can’t help but be impressed with the Spurs. They didn’t panic when Miami was nailing all the 3s, chipped away, and held on for the win. Other than a few Ginobili shots, the Spurs played smart ball the whole game.

    • gonzo1347 - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:51 AM

      I have a huge dislike for LeBron, but to say he is the most overrated athlete in American sports history, is very wrong.

    • riccismiles - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      STRIKE SHORTENED SEASON!!!!! Thank you, thank you.. and THANK YOU!

  5. davidly - Jun 7, 2013 at 3:54 AM

    Wow. If I had told you that Miami ‘d beat the Spurs in field goal and three pt percentage, making one more 3 in the process, had the same number of fouls and got to the line only one less time, outrebounded them by 9, including three more off the offensive glass, had more assists and turned the ball over only 8 times, and that their big three all scored in double figures with LBJ registering a triple double…

    …clearly the rust affected the Spurs. They’ll play better on Sunday, though.

  6. sprint32 - Jun 7, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    Its funny how someone who just had 18pts,18rbs,and 10 assist can be labeled overrated. If that is the case, your basketball knowledge is nonexistent!

  7. rickyspanish - Jun 7, 2013 at 3:56 AM

    This series has spicy written all over it. No fighting, just great basketball. I love the Finals.

  8. pistolpete0903 - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:12 AM

    My few observations/comments:
    1) LBJ might be the best NBA player on the planet now, but for him to even be considered along with MJ and Kobe (and I ain’t a fan of either of them),he has to improve his jump shot. Close to 10 years in the league and you should make teams pay if they leave you open.
    2) Duncan….take a bow. He deserves all the superlatives; more importantly its amazing how you even overlook his performance even when you are watching the game. When you see a 20-10 in the stat sheet, that’s when you realize his impact.
    3) DWade….made lot of hustle plays. I am still not sure if the Heat have figured out how to get Wade involved now that LBJ has been the primary ball handler. The knock on him is the same as LBJ….not a good 3 point shooter.
    4) Ginobili….made a key defensive play on Ray Allen late in the game; but the guy has lost his mojo. Also made a boneheaded play when they were up by 4 with a minute and half to play. Should have let the shot clock run down and attempted the J.
    5) Respect to Pops and Spurs…..Inspite of all the veterans, it’s amazing to see all the players listen (and paying attention) to Pop when he is drawing the plays. Compare that to CP3 and LBJ when they are in the huddle and see them trying to coach.
    6) Still think it is Miami’s series to loose; but they have to really play at the level which they exhibited in Game 7 vs pacers. Or it might be over soon.

    • gostlcards5 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:43 PM

      I don’t agree with your first and last points.

      1. I think that LeBron’s jump shot is much improved since he came to the league. However, I think the following things came into play last night:
      – He failed to get into any real shooting rhythm (as he was facilitating to DWade and Bosh early).
      – He would prefer to pass the ball to get a higher percentage shot when he is well-defended, rather than forcing his will on the game, a la MJ. (By the way, he gets criticized for this way more than he deserves, IMO.)
      – He had very good defense played against him last night, both by Kawhi and the double-teamers, which prevented him both from taking the shots he wanted and made passing to the right person much more difficult.

      6. I think after last night, the Spurs are in the driver’s seat. The Heat can’t overwhelm you with freakish athleticism every night, and the Spurs are a very good team that likes to push the action, similar to the Heat.

      (Also, on #2, you’re absolutely right… Scary thing is, how many open shots did he miss that he usually doesn’t? That could’ve easily been a 30-35/10 line. TD is just amazing to me.)

    • riccismiles - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      I agree with everything from top to bottom. I just wish you added: 7) Lebron James has ONE NBA Championship Trophy and it says “NBA SHORT-SEASON CHAMPION”.

      Can Lebron win a full season ring??? Duncan has, 4 times. LOL (Oh and Parker has 3 times).

  9. erckle31 - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:32 AM

    To anyone that watched LeBron’s postgame interview he mentioned the the Spurs had 21 2nd chance points on 6 offensive rebounds. Is that even possible with only 6 rebounds? A loose ball ball knocked out of bounds by the defense counts as an offensive rebound right? Or are they counting points off turnovers, but that is a stat in itself? Obviously they scored all the points they scored in the game, but is that an error on the statistician/scorekeeper? Don’t care who wins this series, but that stat is bothering me…

    • spursareold - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      The NBA has something called a “team rebound”. If Tony Parker drives the lane, and Birdman blocks it out of bounds, it is not an offensive rebound, but it is a team rebound for the Spurs because they retain possession, and any points scored on the subsequent possession are considered “second chance” points.

    • riccismiles - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      Loose balls are second chance opportunities but NOT rebounds. You may also want to remember that Lebron NEEDS to win this year. WHY? Because LEBRON has never won an NBA championship. LEBRON’s championship says: NBA SHORT SEASON CHAMPION. Nuff Said. (and I’m not a Lebron hater, I’m a “Lebron Lover Hater”. ROFL

      • erckle31 - Jun 7, 2013 at 4:52 PM

        Dude chill out. I’m not even really talking about the Heat or the Spurs or even LeBron. I’m not even talking/care about the overall score or outcome of the game. I’m an objective fan curious as to how you can get 21 second chance points on 6 offensive rebounds because 2nd chance points can ONLY come off offensive rebounds based on my knowledge. And every missed shot by definition HAS to have a rebound whether it’s a team rebound or player rebound so loose balls do count towards offensive/defensive rebounds (for which ever team gains possession afterwards). The only conceivable way would be if there were 3 completed 4 point plays along with 3 three pointers (or 3 completed 3 point plays off fouls on 3s, or 3 completed And-1s), which is essentially impossible. Unless there is some other definition of a 2nd chance point that I’m missing.

  10. cantonbound13 - Jun 7, 2013 at 5:41 AM

    3! Should be a nice quiet 2 days with no bandwagoners spewing nonsense.
    No little jingle from 72 either.

  11. gmsingh - Jun 7, 2013 at 5:46 AM

    I agree with Kurt–I’ll take more games like Game 1 too. It’ll be cool to see the Spurs sweep.

  12. s2mikey - Jun 7, 2013 at 6:33 AM

    The Spurs just lull you to sleep and then….. You lose the game. It seems like Miami played better overall. It seemed like Miami controlled most of the game. It seemed like Miami should have won. But, they didn’t. D Wade played really good too and it went to waste per say. So did Bosh. It’s just one game but if the Spurs can win and sort of get outplayed then things are looking up for them, that’s for sure! Great hoops though, great hoops!

    • southernbrother - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:31 AM

      The Spurs are like that – they continue to play THEIR game and then when you’re not looking, they take the game away from you. Miami can play 40 minutes of great basketball….but let the Spurs hang around, they will beat you those last 8.

    • redbaronx - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      @s2mikey – I think the most impressive thing about game 1 is that the Spurs didn’t even play that well, and they won. On Miami’s home court….with Miami shooting the lights out in the first half…with D Wade playing well.

      Like you said it’s just one game and things can change quickly, but I’m sure Spo isn’t sleeping well.

  13. jbeagles23 - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    We seen this last year. Everyone gets hyped when the heat lose a game they’ll still win the series then all of you will start with your excuses

    • gostlcards5 - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:26 PM

      I don’t think you’re really reading this with any sense of clarity of what you’re looking at. I don’t see anyone being “hyped”, making big predictions, etc. What Kurt (and a lot of the readers) is saying is that there are reasons that things might not look good for Miami.

      The Heat controlled the game for about 40 minutes, but every time the Heat would push to 8 or 9, the Spurs would answer, and the lead would be back to 3-5. Then, they played good defense and took the game away from the Heat in their building. If that trend continues, I don’t know how any reasonable Heat fan could not agree that it is cause for concern.

    • riccismiles - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:38 PM

      YUP, we saw this last year. The year Lebron won his “NBA Short Season Championship”. Can he win a championship in a FULL season? Has he ever?? Duncan has.. LOL.

  14. money2long - Jun 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    i heard from some analyst, i can’t remember who, that when you think about it, with an unhealthy wade, the spurs have an advantage at every position other than SF. these spurs can hang with the heat.

  15. manchestermiracle - Jun 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    In NBA Finals history, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series 71.2 percent (47-19) of the time. However, the Game 1 winner has lost each of the last two NBA Finals (Heat in 2011, Thunder in 2012).

    The Heat have been down 1-0 in a playoff series four times in the James/Bosh/Wade era. In each of the other three instances, the Heat swept the next four games, including last year’s NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    So let’s not get ahead of ourselves and make any blanket declarations just yet. At least another three games to go and game two will be huge. Either the Heat are in trouble down two going to San Antonio or it’s a series again.

    • spursareold - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:07 PM

      Last year, they stole home court in game 2, and then had 3 at home. This year, they LOST home court in game one, and will have three on the road. Not the same thing at all.

    • redbaronx - Jun 7, 2013 at 1:10 PM

      I wouldn’t count the last two years.

      A) The Heat were put together and in their first year against Dallas, they weren’t meshing well yet, and hadn’t figured out their best configurations on the floor.
      B) The Thunder remind me a lot of Dallas through the years. A good regular season team, but lacking playoff in the paint size. Plus the Thunder lacked the toughness through losing. Most NBA teams have to lose before reaching that next level. Detroit in 87/88. The Bulls in 87-89. The Lakers 97-2000. Championship caliber teams who needed to lose a few times before being ready to be champions.

      I think history does matter. And I think it is HUGE that the Spurs won game 1 on Miami’s floor. I’ve been saying Spurs in 6 before the series, and I’m sticking to it. I think Miami wins game two and the Spurs come back for game 3 for a 2-1 lead. Beyond that I don’t know, but my feeling is that the Spurs win the whole thing.

  16. jtmartinez34 - Jun 7, 2013 at 11:26 AM

    One can only hope that justice prevails and the Spurs win this thing. The Heat are inherently a flawed team that prevailed once due to circumstance. They have no true point guard. They plop out small 3 point shooting guards, like Chalmers, who would sit on the bench, if not worse for all other teams. Playing him straight up, without LJ and he would struggle to get a shot off. They have no true center. These garbage journey men they line up are joke, getting opportunity with LJ being shadowed by 4 of 5 defenders. They have a dope of a head coach, who, like Mike Brown, will never succeed in the NBA without the likes of LJ on their team. LJ thrives on this silly and boring spread the defense out and bull drive to the hoop from half court and no one can touch you crap. The game plan invariably falls to this when they can’t execute from a typical team first offensive set.

    This team continues to get breaks when their biggest rivals lose their best players to serious injury in the playoffs. Rose knee, Rondo elbow, Granger knee, Westbrook knee, etc. Against mature, fundamentally strong, and healthy teams – they lose. Period. Tainted champs.

    Lets hope order returns to the NBA and the Heat go down and struggle with age, salary issues due to investing too much in 3 players, injury for having to play your best player the entire game with little to no rest, poor coaching, and all the other problems they have set themselves up for. I’m with most of the world when I say, go Spurs!

    • riccismiles - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      HEY, join my bandwagon: LEBRON JAMES HAS NEVER WON AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP. He has a ring from a shortened season, BUT WHO CARES? What sport REPS its “short season champs?”.. GO SPURS! INDEED!

  17. brugis23 - Jun 7, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Well said mr floyd

  18. riccismiles - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Take NOTE: DO NOT ever EVahhevvahhahh ever mention LEBRON JAMES in the same sentence with Michael Jordan. NEVER EVER EVAH EVAhh.. Lebron ASKED to sit at the start of the 4th quarter of the NBA Finals. -period-. Now, start running this through the social media sphere: LEBRON JAMES has NEVER EVER WON an NBA CHAMPIONSHIP in an NBA regular season. A delayed/strike season? YUP, he has one ring. BUT lets not pretend that Baseball and Football dont discount championships from “short seasons”. DO NOT do the same now. LEBRON has to win this year. IF he doesnt, always remember that as good as he is, and he is good (G O O D), he has NEVER one at this level when everyone starts the long long trip that is the NBA season. Meanwhile, he’s playing a team that has guys that have MULTIPLE championships from REAL NBA seasons! THINK ABOUT IT.. Spurs keep winning me MONAYYYY. LOL

  19. alildusty - Jun 7, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    just found this. pretty sick pass!

  20. ronabq - Jun 7, 2013 at 8:16 PM

    Wow, old LeBron showed up. Every time there’s an intense competition that he loses, he always finds an excuse. C’mon man, just say you got beat and will do some adjustments next game. Don’t give some sorry excuse that you’re “tired”. You need to rise and up your game. Show us you deserve the title “King James”. Game on, brother.

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