SAN ANTONIO -- Twenty-two turnovers, and they found a way. Missed shots all over, they found a way. A point guard hobbled by an ankle, they found a way. Excruciating temperatures in the midst of summer, and they found a way.
Whether it was LeBron James' cramps, the fatigue for the Heat, the Spurs' superiority in ball movement and shooting, or just good ol' fashioned fortune, things fell the Spurs' way yet again in what has become a charmed postseason for the Western Champs. Spurs 110, Heat 95, and a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals for San Antonio.
But hidden behind storylines about LeBron or comments from the NBA and AT&T Center, away from the Spurs' good vibes about going up 1-0 in this best-of-7 series is the subtext. You need breaks along the way to win a title. The Spurs know that, they've gotten them and not gotten them in the past. "Things happen" as both Gregg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra said this week. But underneath the breakout offensive performance for San Antonio was an ugly truth.
"We were fortunate," Danny Green said.
The Spurs know that execution is what matters and the Spurs had it in spurts, but those twenty-two turnovers will stay with them. As bad a sign as it is for Miami that the Spurs tuned the ball over 22 times and won, it's just as bad a sign for the Spurs that they turned it over 22 times. The Spurs had turnover problems last year vs. Miami, problems they were sure they could fix. But they didn't. Many of the turnovers came from the Heat intercepting passing lanes.
Green admitted after the game that could be influenced by the two teams having played one another so often.
"Possibly that had something to do wit it, but also being careless with the ball and not finding the right people. You know they're a good defensive team, they're long and athletic. We got lucky tonight. we can't turn the ball over 23 times and expect to win."
"We ended up with a win that was sort of unlikely after 40 minutes," guard Manu Ginobili said. "Danny got hot, Tony made a huge three-pointer. Kawhi Leonard on the right wing. So if you make six for six down the stretch you are in a good situation ...
"If the best player of the opponent goes down, that helps you, too.
"So we don't have to be very satisfied with this win. Of course it's nice to be up one and not 0-1, but we didn't play that well, and we're going to have to do it much, much better Sunday."
This wasn't just a team that won saying it has to play better, which is what every team says no matter the outcome. The Spurs know they were fortunate to win this game. And while the story of the 2014 playoffs has been defined as much by their good fortune (weak first and second round opponents -- despite Dallas' surprising challenge, the Serge Ibaka injury, and now CrampGate), there will come a time when those breaks do not come, and all they can rely on is being better. They were better in Game 1, but they left themselves vulnerable. Now within three wins of another championship, they have no intention of falling asleep with so much on the line.