SAS Lead Series 1-0 – Game 1
(USA Today Sports) — With time running out on the shot and game clocks and the San Antonio Spurs clinging to a two-point lead, Tony Parker almost lost the ball, almost had a shot blocked by LeBron James, almost didn’t get off a shot in time. And he became the Game 1 hero.
(Photo: Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports)
Parker threw up a desperation attempt high off the backboard that dropped in with 5.2 seconds remaining gave the Spurs a 92-88 victory Thursday against the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
“I was going down and just tried to get a shot off,” Parker said.
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He barely did. James got his hand on the ball as Parker went up. Parker then double-clutched, and as he fell forward, the ball left his hands as the shot clock expired. And the Spurs took a 1-0 lead in the series.
Parker had a game-high 21 points, but the stars came out for the series opener. James had a triple-double (18 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists), Dwyane Wade had 17 points and Chris Bosh had 13 points. But Tim Duncan (20 points, 14 rebounds) and Manu Ginobili (13 points) had just a little more help from their role players.
“Obviously, Lebron is unbelievable and Dwyane Wade was playing great,” Parker said. “We just try to contain them.”
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The Spurs erased a 76-73 deficit early in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Heat 19-12 in the final 8:08 with Parker leading the charge. The Heat cut it to 88-86 on three free throws from Ray Allen and were within 90-88 before Parker’s basket.
Game 2 is Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
And this series seems far from over. Settle in because it has the hallmarks of a classic — future Hall of Famers, great coaching, front-office acumen.
The Heat are trying to become the first team since the creation of the 16-team playoff format in 1984 to play in consecutive seven-game Eastern Conference finals and win the back-to-back championships. The Game 1 winner is 21-8 in the Finals since 1984 but 0-2 in the past two seasons.
The Spurs are trying to win a fifth title, spanning three decades. Duncan has been the centerpiece of title teams in 1999, 2003 and 2007.
How close was it? Neither team led by more than nine points.
The Spurs play a slightly different game than the Indiana Pacers, and it’s a style Miami prefers — more wide-open with more three-point opportunities.
It was a feeling-out process in the first quarter, and after a quick 9-2 start by the Spurs, the Heat began to find more open space — especially at the three-point line — than they had against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.
Though it took Heat coach Erik Spoelstra longer than it should have, he finally went to Mike Miller instead of Shane Battier off the bench, starting with Game 7 against the Pacers. He went back to Miller in Game 1 against the Spurs.
And when Spoelstra implores that everything is “on the table” in the Finals, he means it. Eleven Heat players checked into the game in the first half, including Joel Anthony who had a had a productive three minutes with three rebounds.
The Heat took their threes liberally, finishing 8-for-25. But one of the misses was crippling: James hit Bosh with a pass on a drive with about a minute left, and Bosh fired a wide-open three-pointer. It clanked off, and Green grabbed the rebound.
“He was probably open at that point for a reason,” Spoelstra said.
Miami played a strong first half — 20-for-40 from the field, including 40% on three-pointers and committed just two turnovers. James motored toward a triple-double with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists
Knee problem for Wade? What knee problem? Officially, it’s a bruised right knee, but he showed little effort from it with 13 points in the first half.
But even with that kind of half, they led just 52-49 at halftime, and the Spurs didn’t have to feel too badly, considering they shot 42.9% from the field. Green (three three-pointers) and Duncan (12 points) kept the Spurs close.
Game 2 happens Sunday, June 9th.
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