This game was filled with turnovers. The two teams combined for a ridiculous 19 in the first 24 minutes, with 10 of those coming from the Spurs. Tim Duncan led the way in the first half for the Spurs with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting, and the good guys went into the locker room with a 54-49 lead. Manu GInobili was great in the game, but he was on another level in the first half, putting up an 11-3-5 line with two steals and a block with no turnovers.
The Spurs opened the third with a quick four points to take a nine point lead, but the Heat rattled off eight straight to close the gap to just one, and it looked like we were in for a tight one. The Spurs managed to turn the ball over nine times in the third period and headed into the fourth quarter trailing the Heat by four, 78-74.
An air conditioning malfunction, later attributed to an electrical problem, at the AT&T Center almost certainly played a part in the sloppiness of the game, and towards the end of the quarter Doris Burke informed viewers that the temperature 10 feet behind the baseline was 88 degrees. During the fourth quarter she let us know that is was over 90. Let's use this heat index calculator to see what it felt like inside the arena. The relative humidity in San Antonio was between 63% or 73% during the second quarter and the end of the game. If we call it 89 degrees and 68% we see that it feels like it's 102 degrees. With about 19,000 people in the building I'm sure the relative humidity was significantly higher than it was outside, and if it was more like 80% then the heat index jumps to 110 degrees.
The fourth quarter didn't start well for the Spurs, and they went down seven after a Chris Bosh four-point play and two San Antonio turnovers in the first two and a half minutes of the quarter. San Antonio responded with a five nothing run to cut the deficit to two at 84-86. Tony Parker drove into the lane on back-to-back possessions, once hitting a floater and finding Duncan for an easy layup on the other.
Danny Green missed his first four threes, but he hit back-to-back triples and then following a nice Timmy outlet pass he had a dunk in transition. Spurs up, 94-90.
LeBron James suffered severe cramps after he drove to the hole and scored. He had to be helped to the bench and the Spurs took advantage of LBJ being unable to go to expand their lead to seven after another Danny triple, but Mario Chalmers hit a three in response. Kawhi Leonard, who hadn't played much due to some early foul trouble hit just his second bucket of the game, but it was a huge bucket. He hit an above the break three to give the Spurs their seven point lead back with 1:48 to play. The Spurs then got a Tony Parker corner three off a beautiful pass sequence that featured Manu Ginobili finding Duncan in the paint from the top of the arc and then a touch-pass from Timmy to TP in his spot. That was it. A Parker jumper, a Whi steal, and another Leonard triple were just cherries and exclamation points.
The Spurs closed the game on a 31-9 run and picked up the first win of the series. Good stuff from the good guys.
The temperature will be the most talked about aspect of this game and it was certainly a factor for both teams. There will be people calling out LeBron for not playing through cramps, but I can't imagine anyone who has had a serious cramp thinking that it is something that can just be played through.
- Manu Ginobili was just ridiculous. He scored 16 points on 10 shots and racked up 11 dimes, five boards, three steals, a block and just two turnovers. TWO! In a game where the Spurs turned it over 23 times. He was a +22 in his 32 minutes of work, but that didn't lead the team. Not even really close.
- Boris Diaw finished an absurd +30. This and he only scored two points on 1-of-5 shooting. Boris was huge in this game though, coming up with an impressive 10 rebounds and six assists, keeping the ball moving and making his impact on the game by doing all of the little things and playing smart. To top it off he only committed one turnover. Boris' performance has to be one of the all-time great two-point performances.
- Tim Duncan could not miss. He only took 10 shots but he connected on nine to finish with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists. 38 years old and he put up a 20-10 game in just 33 minutes in his sixth NBA Finals. Posting a field goal percentage of at least 90% along with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the NBA Finals has been accomplished just three times in the history of the league, with the great Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain each accomplishing the feat once each. There is nothing left to say about Big Fun. He's a singular talent and a joy to watch. We are lucky, Spurs fans.