Nightly Grades: Spurs take Game 1 over the Heat

By Royce Young | NBA writer


The Spurs took their talents to South Beach to earn a split. Well, that's already done. Now they can turn their attention to bringing a 2-0 lead back to San Antonio. By winning Game 1, the Spurs have placed all the pressure on the Heat and can play a free, relaxed Game 2.

San Antonio did their thing in Game 1. They hung tight, made timely shots and got the game into crunchtime and just out-executed the Heat. Except for that Tony Parker dagger. That wasn't about execution. That was just about a playmaker making a big play.

And check this: The Spurs turned the ball over just four times. Two of those came in the first quarter. They played smart, they played sound, they played fundamental.


Remember: The Heat lost Game 1 of the Finals last season to Oklahoma City and responded with four straight wins. Difference here: That wasn't at home. The Heat held a nine-point lead in the first half and seemed to be in complete control. But the game slipped on them in the fourth and the Spurs were the ones playing the closing card.

The scary thing for the Heat is that the Spurs probably don't feel like they even played as well they're capable of. The Heat are in a hole, something they've experienced already this postseason. But are they in trouble? That's the question.


You know an officiating crew did well when you barely noticed them. The only time they were in the spotlight in Game 1 was when they were forced there by a review on Tony Parker's dagger jumper and in the end, it appears they got the call right.

The game was allowed to breathe and the officials didn't dominate it with tight whistles as there were only 24 total fouls called which resulted in only 35 combined free throws. The crew did a terrific job in this one. The officiating wasn't even close to being a story, despite there being some big calls and some big moments.

AHis final line isn't overwhelming -- 21 points, six assists -- but three plays in the fourth quarter stick out. The spin move on Norris Cole, the jumper over Chris Bosh and of course, the leaning banker to seal the game with 5.2 seconds left. Parker's a dangerous crunchtime player because he can get to the line, get to the rim and make mid-range jumpers. LeBron switched to guard him late, and it didn't matter.
A-Tim Duncan started a little slow, missing a few decent looks and forcing a few jumpers. But he found his rhythm as the game went on, opening more space in the high post as well as getting on the block. He dominated the interior with 20 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks and four assists.
B+Kawhi Leonard's job in the series is probably the most important, and most challenging -- he's tasked with defending LeBron James. He's basically the only Spur on the roster equipped to do it and while LeBron put a triple-double up on him, Leonard didn't allow him easy points in the post and forced him to a number of jumpers as the MVP went just 7 of 16 from the floor.
B-LeBron's line pops -- 18 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists -- but he was kind of sort of human, particularly in the second half. An iffy decision to rest LeBron early in the fourth is what allowed the Spurs to close in on Miami and with the Heat trailing late, LeBron wasn't able to really take over in his normal manner.
FChris Bosh took a beating in the Pacers series -- literally and figuratively -- and seemed to be in better shape when it came to the matchup with the Spurs because it's a bit more traditional. But he hovered far too much on the perimeter and with the Spurs daring him to shoot 3s, Bosh obliged, missing all four of his attempts from deep, including a critical one late in the fourth. Bosh went 6 of 16 for 13 points and only five rebounds. Quite simply, he has to play better.
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