The San Antonio Spurs take Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals, overcoming the reigning champions Miami Heat 110-95 on home court.
It’s the first time in 16 years that two teams have faced off in the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons (Chicago Bull v Utah Jazz 1997 and 1998 was the last time it occurred).
It was obvious that Tim Duncan and his Spurs haven’t forgiven themselves for their Game 6 collapse in the 2013 Finals.
But four turnovers in as many minutes by the Spurs early allowed Miami to get off to a quick start.
Enter Manu Ginobili.
The Argentine came in with a point to prove after a subpar performance this time a year ago.
Manu had nine points (3-of-4 from downtown), two steals, two rebounds, and three assists in just six minutes at the end of the first quarter.
Miami’s active hands created problems for the Spurs, but the hosts still managed to close the quarter on an 8-1 run.
The game was very structured from both teams, with neither seeming to have the advantage.
Resting Dwayne Wade throughout the season has done a world of good. He looked fresh and was in a great rhythm, hitting 5-of-8 by the midway point of the second. Wade was in attack mode, forcing Manu to defend him on every possession.
Wade finished the night with 19 points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Tim Duncan quietly went to work, finishing the first half with 15 points, three rebounds and one assist on 6-of-8 shooting.
Half Time: Spurs 54 Heat 49.
In a huddle, Spurs coach Greg Popovich said, “It’s the NBA Finals, they’re the NBA Champions, they have what we want”.
Unfortunately, that pep talk didn’t work. The game turned a little sloppy and it began to go Miami’s way. The Spurs had nine turnovers with just 20 points scored in the third
LeBron James nailed an impossible corner three.
Ray Allen turned back the clock.
And an unrelenting Wade kept attacking, while the Heat led by four (78-74) at the end of the third.
The Miami Heat are the first side since the Celtics (1984-1987) to get to four consecutive Finals, and they appeared to be in control. Miami pushed out to an 86-79 advantage early in the fourth quarter after a four-point play from Chris Bosh.
But James began to suffer from a cramp in his left foot and the momentum started to slowly shift back to the home team.
San Antonio outscored the Heat 36-17 in the final period, hitting 6-of-6 from downtown.
The last quarter produced some great exchanges, but Danny Green was the shining light.
Through three-and-a-half quarters, Green managed zero points, missing on all five of his attempts.
When he nailed his first bucket with 6:08 left, that all changed.
Danny tallied up 11 points, 4-of-4 from the floor (three from downtown and one emphatic dunk).
James drove to the bucket as a smooth crossover on Boris Diaw opened up a lane. But he was carried off moments later as the cramp was causing too much pain. No doubt a turning point.
In the Spurs’ six Finals appearances during the Greg Popovich era, their 22 turnovers in Game 1 is the most they have committed in any Finals match.
San Antonio closed the game on a 31-9 run, while Wade had just two points in the final quarter.
Game 2 is on Monday, June 9, 10:00am (AEDT).
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