Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to June 6 inclusive:
3-1 Series (+2.0 units)
It’s so perfect, it has to be a conspiracy. The San Antonio Spurs were down seven points to the Miami Heat early in the fourth quarter, but things quickly went south from there, as the Spurs outscored Miami 31-9 to win Game 1 of the NBA Finals 110-95. LeBron James watched it all unravel from the bench – he left the game with cramps in his leg, almost certainly due to the broken air-conditioning at AT&T Center. San Antonio jumped all over the opportunity and drained six 3-pointers to thump the NBA odds as a 5.5-point favorite.
Game 2 isn’t until Sunday (8:00 p.m. ET, ABC), so James will presumably be able to recover in time. Can we say the same thing about the electrical system at the arena? Temperatures on the floor were in excess of 90 degrees when James started cramping up; those in attendance coped as well as they could by fanning themselves with their NBA Finals programs throughout the evening. “I think all of us were feeling the heat and all of us are a little dehydrated,” Tim Duncan said after the final horn.
Skinny Sweaty Man in a Green Suit
The A/C fiasco took away from what started off as a fantastic basketball game, with both teams showing their stuff. Then everything went off-kilter as the conditions worsened. San Antonio ended up committing 22 turnovers, but the Heat coughed up the ball 16 times themselves – partly from the excellent defense both teams were playing, and partly because everyone was getting increasingly uncomfortable.
If you’re betting on the NBA Finals and you’re looking for a takeaway from this game, it’s that these two teams are about as evenly matched as we expected going into the Finals. Chris Bosh sank three of his four 3-point attempts; his added range makes Miami an even tougher smallball matchup for San Antonio than last year. On the plus side for the Spurs, they canned 13 of their 25 treys, with Manu Ginobili going 3-for-6 and looking much better than he did in the 2013 Finals.
While the Spurs were able to roll nine players and have them all contribute in Game 1, the Heat had to contend with their point guard, Mario Chalmers, getting into foul trouble. He ended up playing just 17 minutes; Norris Cole ran the offense well in his absence, but the two combined for just five points. Shane Battier was also held scoreless on just one wayward 3-point attempt in 14 minutes off the bench.
As for our two favorite somewhat-injured players, Tony Parker did indeed start Game 1, and he had a steady evening with 19 points and eight assists in 37 minutes – although Parker also left the game briefly in the fourth quarter. Chris Andersen played a solid 18 minutes of defense for Miami with three rebounds and a block. There weren’t any other injury concerns from Thursday other than dehydration – James reportedly received an IV after the game.Now that the Spurs have gotten that first win at home, we can look ahead to Game 2 on Sunday, where San Antonio has opened at –6 (+102) on the NBA odds board with a total of 200 points. Marathon was the first (and only) of our featured online sportsbooks to post a line for Game 2 as we went to press. We’ll take a closer look at the betting market for Sunday’s game as the weekend approaches. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids in the meantime.