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The NBA Finals are not over.

Jun 6, 2014, 10:18 AM EDT

Boris Diaw, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker Boris Diaw, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker

Game 1 winners won 75 percent of NBA Finals.

Until LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat.

Since, Finals Game 1 winners are 0-for-3 in claiming the championship.

We’re always prone to read too much into a single victory at this stage of the season – especially when there are no other games to balance our perception of a series.

That’s less true this year, because LeBron missed most of the fourth quarter last night due to cramps. If he returns healthy in Game 2, that changes everything.

Yet, there are a lot of people who watched the San Antonio’s Game 1 win and have gotten caught up by it. They saw the Spurs win by 15, absolutely dismantling Miami. They saw how the Heat couldn’t even outscore San Antonio with LeBron on the court and were already losing when he left. They saw the Spurs commit an uncharacteristic 22 turnovers and win anyway.

Watch all that, and it’s easy to get carried away.

It’s also a mistake.

Beyond the LeBron factor, recent history tells us the Finals are far from over.



(click to enlarge)

What explains this trend?

Erik Spoelstra is one of the most-willing adjusters of anyone who’s ever coached an elite team. Even after wins, he’s not afraid to change lineups and strategies. Heck in all Miami series since the big three joined forces, Game 1 winners are just 9-6. (All-time, meaning adding 2006, Game 1 winners are 0-4 in Finals involving Miami.) The Heat have personality to overcome this.

While Miami’s fluid approach might play a factor, the the better explanation is it’s just coincidence. Game 1 winners sometimes lose the series, and in the long run, it’s bound to happen a few times in a row just as a rolled die can land on the same number a few times in a row.

But the lesson holds true – there’s still plenty of basketball to be played. San Antonio didn’t clinch the series last night. A team can’t guarantee itself a Finals victory after only Game 1.

Unless the Heat already did.

  1. spursareold - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Did anyone say they were over?

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      Anti did… that antistratfordian or whatever his username is…

      said the Heat were now going to win via a gentleman’s sweep, said it was done.

      he was rubbing down LeBron when he made this statement too…

      • thundercocck - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        Anyone who regularly reads the comments can come to the conclusion that anti knows nothing about basketball.

    • trevor123698 - Jun 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM

      yeah. they are over. spurs win

    • gmsingh123 - Jun 8, 2014 at 10:06 AM

      I think people just wish they were over.

  2. miamiHeatlesnotBeatles - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    This is the second time we’ve lost in the last week due to circumstance. Game 5 at Indiana, LBJ gets in foul trouble (5 fouls) scores 7 points. Game 1 at SA, the AC is broken and causes fatigue and the best player in the world to cramp. I’m very calm after losses like this…We have to be beaten 4 times without circumstance.

    • spursareold - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      You should be worried about Wade. When the Spurs force him to play minutes, he finished 3-13 after starting 5-5.

      No rest for the wicked.

      • kinggw - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        When the Spurs forced him to play minutes? What does that even mean? So I guess you should be worried about Ginobli who only scored 5 points after the 1st quarter.

        Neither fatigue or the Spurs bothered Wade he just didn’t get any calls when he drove the lane. He only had two free throw attempts. Maybe he should start flopping on every play like Splitter and Ginobli.

      • sportsfan18 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:13 PM

        OR like LeFlop does…

    • bucrightoff - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      Nah, Spurs should win in 5 because of what we saw last night, and not the AC being broken. Unless Miami causes a ton of turnovers, they don’t have much of a chance. The Spurs offensive efficiency on their non-turnover possesions last night was astronomically high. Without turnvoers they’ll carve the Heat up.

  3. djshnooks - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    This is hilarious.

    San Antonio is the best team.

    Bottom line.

  4. goldmember21 - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Miami in 6

    • spursareold - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      No way.

  5. azarkhan - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Game 1 has gone to the Spurs. Six more games to go.

  6. goldmember21 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:24 AM

    Lebron would have returned if lance was on the bench blowing on his face.

  7. aboogy123456 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:26 AM

    Here’s what I saw last night. The Heat played like the more composed, and smarter team, and it really hurts them that they let this one slip. They forced a lot of turnovers, but the Spurs also had a lot of dumb turnovers. Kawhi played horrible on both ends of the court, and didn’t look like his head was in the game. I think the Heat were playing near their peak last night, and the spurs look like they have a higher level they can get to, especially if Kawhi can step up and if they can stay composed throughout a game.

    • azarkhan - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Zen Spur got in early foul trouble and so never got into the game, but he’ll be OK.

      • aboogy123456 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        The issue is how he got the fouls. I understand if you are using fouls to prevent Lebron from getting to the basket, but he got one on an illegal screen, then he got ticky tack fouls after that. He needs to understand he is guarding the best player in the world, so his fouls are very valuable.

  8. ebecks34 - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Yea, that certainly proves everything, give the title to Miami already. What else now? If you roll the dice 9 times, in the 10th time you still get a 1/6 chance.

  9. chiadam - Jun 6, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    Wait…it’s not a one-game series now? Thanks for wasting everyone’s time.

  10. 00maltliquor - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Heat lose and it’s all going to come down to LeBron’s cramping in game one down the stretch in game 1, a game they could have won before then. Those cramps changed this series completely.

    • loungefly74 - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      …though…if the Spurs lose Game 2…series over. Heat win. Yeah, I am saying Game 2 is a must-win for the Spurs.

      • 00maltliquor - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        Yessir. There’s little room for error for both teams.

      • spursareold - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM

        Nope. With the Finals being back to a 2-2-1-1-1 format, game 2 isn’t NEARLY as important as it has been in the past.

      • savvybynature - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        I don’t see it as a must win, though every game is important.
        I could see these teams alternating victories all the way up to a game 7. They are both just that good and evenly matched.

      • loungefly74 - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:04 PM

        i just dont want to see a repeat of what happened to the Pacers. That game 2 loss took the sail out of their winds…and the Heat are so good when the opponent’s jugular is exposed.

  11. abchome - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:04 PM


  12. hwatt - Jun 6, 2014 at 12:55 PM

    the heat drop a lot of game ones bc they don’t respect their opponent, then get surprised when the other team comes out swingin hard. laziest champs in the nba (spurs in 6)

  13. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    But if Miami had won, we wouldn’t be getting this particular piece. YAWN.

  14. dolphindubs - Jun 6, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    LeFlop. Clever. Be proud of yourself.

    Lets keep this going with all the other floppers who are more flagrant with their flopping than LeBron though…

    Tiago Flopper? Manu Gifloppy? Kevin Duflop? Lance Steflopsen? Blake Flopsin? Shane Floppier? Roy Floppert? Chris Flopaul?

    There Will Be More.

    • jimeejohnson - Jun 6, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      Let the pea brain punk losers have their fun. Their pathetic lives suck so bad this is how they enjoy themselves, just like all losers. Enjoy!

  15. antistratfordian - Jun 6, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    No kidding. Historical stats are unreliable when it comes to LeBron or his teams because he’s so adept at breaking them.

    Always remember: It doesn’t matter how good you think LeBron is – he’s better than that. He is underrated by absolutely everybody. Even me.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 6, 2014 at 7:06 PM

      OK Anti…

      Let’s check into this then… MJ vs. LBJ

      MJ 6 & 0 in NBA Finals… never even let ONE get to a game 7
      LBJ 2 & 2 in NBA Finals… i KNOW this series isn’t over but he COULD be 2 & 3 in FINALS…

      ALL stats below are ONLY for the PLAYOFFS…

      MJ PER 28.6
      LBJ PER 27.6

      MJ 28.8 points per 36 min’s
      LBJ 23.6 points per 36 min’s

      MJ .487% field goal percentage
      LBJ .480% field goal percentage

      MJ .332% 3 point percentage
      LBJ .327% 3 point percentage

      MJ .828% free throw percentage
      LBJ .754% free throw percentage

      MJ .255 win shares per 48 min’s
      LBJ .243 win shares per 48 min’s

      Again, those were ALL playoff stats above…

      MJ also has 6 Finals MVP’s too… LeBron was 0 for 2 in his first two tries in those as well as titles…

      So, LBJ might be BETTER than even you think he is, but he is NOT better than MJ is…

      And if LBJ and the Heat do end up losing to the Spurs… well 2 & 3 in the Finals puts him in a tough spot…

      • antistratfordian - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:02 AM

        Michael Jordan!? Was anybody talking about Michael Jordan? It’s the NBA Finals, son! Focus!

        I’m not going to turn this thread into a passionate MJ vs LBJ thing. No one is going to appreciate that, and my reply – which would be lengthy – probably wouldn’t make it through anyway. So I’ll reply to your message on my blog as the next installment in my Michael Jordan vs LeBron James series. Probably after Game 2.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:05 AM

        Why are we checking into MJ vs. LBJ? Was anybody talking about MJ?

        I’m not going to turn this thread into a passionate MJ vs LBJ thing. No one is going to appreciate that, and my reply – which would be lengthy – probably wouldn’t make it through anyway (60% of my posts never go through, believe it or not).

        So I’ll reply to your message on my blog as the next installment in my MJ vs LBJ series. Probably after Game 2.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 7, 2014 at 4:09 AM

        Was anybody talking about MJ?

        No one is going to appreciate an MJ vs LBJ ruckus during the finals, and my reply – which would be lengthy – probably wouldn’t make it through anyway (approx. 60% of my posts never go through, believe it or not. this short reply here is my third attempt).

        So I’ll reply to your message sometime on my blog as an installment in my MJ vs LBJ series.

  16. blackapologist - Jun 6, 2014 at 10:02 PM

    This article is VERY misleading! First, the Spurs did not “dismantle” the Heat. The Heat was well on their way in winning game 1…..until their star went out. Lebron shut Danny Green down the entire game until he left. He guarded Manu G and shut him down. He guarded Tony Parker like he did on last year and shut him down!

    It was not until he literally could not play anymore that the tide turned in the Spurs favor. The Heat had been up by 8 points early in the 4th quarter in command…and then the cramps started. When Danny Green was finally able to hit a 3 pointer, he himself was shocked that it went it.

    What I got from the game is given that the Spurs was at home and had the crowd..and yet were still outplayed for the most part, says that they are in deep trouble! The Heat will no doubt win this series and it starts Sunday night in the very UGLY City of San Antonio, Texas.

    My wife’s only brother lives in San Antonio with his family and I’ve been there several times and I’m not sure what is the most ugly City in America between San Antonio, Cleveland, or Detroit. I couldn’t give a darn if I ever step foot in that boring, nothing to do, and ugly City!

  17. newyorkball82 - Jun 7, 2014 at 7:52 AM

    Nobody needs to compare Lebron to MJ. There is no comparison. You can twist any stats you want on your blog, and try to make any points you want. Lebron is no MJ, period, and won’t be.

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