The San Antonio Spurs may have homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals against the defending champion Miami Heat, but after three quarters, the road team was looking to win Game 1.
Holding a four-point advantage going into the final period, the Heat were right there with the Spurs. Miami seemed to run out of gas, however, in the fourth quarter and San Antonio ran away for a 110-95 win.
First thing’s first – this wasn’t the blowout that the box score might lead you to believe it was. Even with a 15-4 run in the fourth quarter, the Spurs still held only a four-point lead with just under two minutes to play. A flurry of late buckets provided the final tally and San Antonio had a much more difficult time winning the game than would appear by the 15-point victory.
As was expected, the game was a back and forth affair for most of the night. There were a gaggle of lead changes and both teams held the lead in each of the four quarters. By the end, though, the Heat were just – overheated.
An air conditioning problem in the arena made for an unusually warm venue. Reports indicated that the temperature got to approximately 90 degrees inside. Fans and players were both visibly uncomfortable in the arena and LeBron James even had to leave the game with cramps and, presumably, the hot conditions as the Heat were fading from contention.
Without going too far off track, some things are out of a team’s control when hosting games. For the air conditioning to break down during a game in what is the league’s biggest stage, though, is borderline inexcusable. The Heat have no one to blame here as conditions were equally bad for both parties. However, conditions in the arena that affect how the game is played with a championship at stake is a black eye for the league and commissioner Adam Silver.
Whether James was sore, overheated, or both, the forward had a difficult time in the fourth quarter, along with Dwyane Wade. Of Miami’s trio of stars, Chris Bosh was the only one who played reasonably well in the final period. Bosh scored the team’s first eight points of the fourth quarter to give the team a seven-point lead with less than ten minutes to play. Unfortunately, he didn’t get much help.
James, fresh off of a ten-point third quarter, scored only two in the fourth. In fact, he took only three shots. Part of the reason for his lack of offense was the three-minute stretch on the bench when he came out of the game with cramps. James saw the Heat’s two-point lead turn into a four-point deficit during that time and his absence was key.
Wade also struggled in the fourth quarter, scoring only two points as well. Like James, he also sat out some key stretches, missing the end of the third quarter and several minutes early in the fourth quarter.
The Heat have some other players capable of producing, but four points from James and Wade in the final period of a close game just won’t cut it.