The Finals are here and it’s the Heat/Spurs rematch we anticipated all year long. A Game 1 screenshot diary is a must.
Remember when the NBA used to get adults to sing the national anthem?
Duncan and Sean Marks stroke hands, and we’re ready to go. Little known fact: six of Marks’ 11 starts as an NBA player came with the Heat.
11:23: Tony Parker’s ankles appear to be in working order. Mario Chalmers’ ankles do not.
9:09: The Spurs won’t mind LeBron shooting these jumpers. He hits this one anyway.
7:18: Duncan has had a fresh trim for the Finals and is looking unusually presentable. Mrs. Davo during the Western Conference Finals: “He looks like a tramp.”
7:02: Wade goes Hakeem on us with the beautiful ball fake and a definite Top 5 Plays of the Finals candidate. He looks a lot better than last year.
5:12: Doris goes for the straightened hair for Game 1. Will there be any adjustments going forward?
4:08: Boris Diaw is on the floor wreaking his usual all-round mayhem and dropping a beautiful pass off to Tiago Splitter. Splitter not only misses the layup, but commits the offensive foul.
3:52: LeBron (6 points, 3-for-3 FGs) is attacking off the dribble in the halfcourt, something he failed to do enough last year until the fourth quarter of Game 6.
2:53: Ray Allen falls asleep and Manu Ginobili knocks down his third straight triple. Wake up, Ray Ray.
2:33: LeBron is again wearing the Nike Zoom Soldier 7s. He has continually eschewed his signature (significantly more expensive) LeBron 11 model this season.
Spoelstra: “I liked you better with the curly hair.” (Note: not an actual quote.)
10:06: Great, another completely unnecessary interview with former ref Steve Javie, whose thoughts nobody wants to hear. Javie often felt the need to be the biggest star on the floor when he was an active official and somehow is still getting his mug on TV more than half the players. Between him and the return of Mark Jackson, the ESPN/ABC broadcasts have become close to unbearable. Bring back the NBA on NBC!
9:20: Parker makes the heads-up pass from the floor to Splitter. Splitter naturally misses.
8:27: A rare five-second violation and a mental blunder by the Heat as no one stays in the backcourt to receive Norris Cole’s inbounds pass after Marco Belinelli’s three. Ray Ray, where you at?
8:26: Chalmers: “Get off me, Chrissy. The camera’s on us.”
7:00: One player who is wearing the LeBron 11s: Manu Ginobili.
6:49: Wade (10 points, 5-for-8 FGs) continues to look great and is having no problem getting to the hoop.
5:30: More Boris Diaw drive-and-dish action as Timmy finishes with the dunk. Is Diaw the most underrated passer in the league?
2:55: LeBron, we’re continually reminded, can defend all five positions. He matches up with Duncan in this play but foolishly walks away from him to double Manu in the corner. Duncan ends up with an easy layup. Terrible defense.
2:14: Here goes Diaw again with a sublimely casual no-look dish to Duncan for the layup. What a player.
0:31: Of course Diaw turns down the open shot and dumps it into Duncan for an even better look. He is my idol. Duncan (15 points, 6-for-7 FGs) has had a great half; the Spurs lead 54-49.
The air conditioning has malfunctioned in the arena and the ABC crew play funny over it. We can only hope as viewers that company man Breen and Jackson both pass out and we can watch the rest of the game in peace. Mama, there goes that man…right off our TV screens, praise the Lord.
Bernie Bickerstaff is recognized for winning the coaching Lifetime Achievement award. He was the coach of the 8th-seed Nuggets who famously defeated George Karl’s Sonics in the ’94 first round but had little head coaching success outside of that, finishing with a losing record in nine of his 14 seasons.
8:50: This has not been Chalmers’ finest hour.
7:57: Chuck did say there were some big ol’ women in San Antonio. “A goldmine for Weight Watchers,” he said.
5:42: The ice packs are out as Bosh and LeBron attempt to cool down in the sweltering heat. The mic’d up LeBron is heard saying to his teammates during a timeout: “They tryna smoke us outta here.” Meanwhile fans fan themselves with the suddenly useful cardboard clapperboards. This will forever be remembered as the Air Conditioning Game.
1:58: Ray Allen takes a time machine back to 2001.
0:10: Kawhi goes under the screen daring LeBron to shoot. He obliges and puts the Heat up 6, putting a cap on a sloppy 9-turnover quarter for the Spurs.
11:02: Suddenly it’s the Tiago Splitter show. He has the Spurs’ last 9 points as they cut the lead to one and continue to attack the Heat’s smaller lineup inside even when Splitter and Duncan are not on the floor together.
9:46: Splitter changes into a fresh jersey on the bench due to the heat and sweat build-up. This is rare stuff. A truly funky game.
8:36: The Heat clear out the strong side for LeBron, who settles for the long fade-away jumper. Perhaps due to the heat fatigue, he has stopped attacking the basket and is letting the Spurs off the hook.
8:03: LeBron (23 points, 8-for-16 FGs) settles again for virtually the exact same shot and walks gingerly to the bench.
6:43: LeBron asks out of the game. Michael and Kobe, who had dinner together this week, are rolling over in their graves.
6:34: Fortunately for the Heat, they still have Dwyane Wade (19 points, 8-for-15 FGs), who puts them up four.
5:40: My idol drives baseline and finds Danny Green spotting up for his second straight three to put the Spurs back up two. Remember when Green was the 2013 Finals MVP through five games?
5:33: What is going on?
4:38: Danny Green gets out on the break and throws it down Rashard’s throat to put the Spurs up four. This dunk was nearly as unexpected as Ray’s.
4:11: LeBron finally re-enters and, to his credit, takes it right at Diaw for the layup. Unfortunately, he immediately cramps up under the Spurs basket and again asks out of the game.
3:59: LeBron looks like a 50-year-old who turned up to play in the park for the first time in a decade.
LeBron has to be carried to the bench. We haven’t seen Finals injury drama like this since Paul Pierce went off in a wheelchair in 2008. LeBron had cramps versus OKC in 2012, but not to this extent.
The sweat continues to build on Spo’s shirt as we are informed the temperate has risen above 90 degrees in the arena.
3:53: Green does it again (4-for-4 FGs in the fourth), putting the Spurs up 97-92.
3:20: This will also be remembered as the Cramp Game.
1:43: The crowd goes wild as Kawhi’s three puts the Spurs up 102-95, an effective nail in the Heat’s Game 1 coffin. Kawhi, or Whi-Whi as Timmy calls him, has played poorly most of the night, but came through with a big one here.
1:16: Chalmers (17 minutes, 3 points, 1 assist, 5 turnovers, 5 fouls) drops one last stink bomb as he leaves Parker wide open in the corner. Tony knocks it down as the Spurs go up by 10, the first double digit lead of the night.
1:14: There goes the King, his 2-point fourth quarter officially over.
Tim: “I don’t know what happened to LeBron but we’re all dehydrated. We played through it and found a way to win.”
By no means is it time to panic for the Heat. They have overcome 1-0 deficits before, including in last year’s Finals. LeBron has plenty of time to hydrate and recover before Game 2 and realistically would be ready to go tonight if need be. However, a hot summertime arena is clearly his latest postseason kryptonite. Just when you think he has completely turned the corner and reached indestructible status, something else seemingly pops up. All eyes will be on him in Game 2. The Spurs might want to consider not turning the now-fixed AC all the way back up.