So how about that AC? I had no idea what the hell was going to happen in this game beforehand. I predicted Spurs by 7, and then winning the series in 6. You can probably say this game was lost by the Heat when LeBron couldn’t continue in the fourth quarter. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered, as Danny Green and the Spurs were … ahem …heating up in the fourth quarter on their way to a 31-9 run.
Put me in the camp that says dealing with ridiculousness is part of the game. The game includes injuries, water cannons, bats, and the AC going out. That isn’t to say that LeBron should have toughed it out or some other ridiculous bullshit. When I joke on the twitters about sports I do so fully acknowledging that I cannot and never could play at that level. From an NBA-fan standpoint it obviously is lame that the best player couldn’t perform in crunch time, with the game close. Again, that’s the game. Someone tell Derek Rose about being unlucky.
I don’t know about calling this Game 8. I do know that it wasn’t two teams feeling each other out like Game 1 of the 2013 Finals was. So maybe it is kind of Game 8. There is a decidedly different vibe going into this one, from a Spurs fan perspective. Sure, the plaudits for the team’s two-decade run were repeated, but this time there was a little bite. I like it. The Spurs’ run has been amazing compared to the Clevelands of the world but not necessarily better than the Bulls of the 90s, the Lakers of the 80s, or the Celtics of the 50s. I’m happy for the Spurs to be in that conversation.
The first half, with all of Manu’s energy and shot-making felt like a revenge movie. Everyone gave Manu a eulogy after he played 1 good game out of 7 to end the last Finals, after underwhelming in the playoffs. The Spurs’ inability to win post-2007 can in some ways be explained by Manu’s inability to be healthy in the post-season. Not only is he heather now, but he doesn’t have to do as much as Kawhi Leonard has grown offensively.
That’s a long way of saying that it was good to see him back in 2007 form. He admitted in the halftime interview that he faded a bit. Given that he was the only looking crisp offensively, that didn’t portend good things for the second half, five point lead notwithstanding.
All that said, we would have had a very different game if that air conditioning was working. LeBron said he felt like he played the entire game when he was subbed out in the middle of the third quarter. “They are trying to smoke us out.”
The only dude that was impervious to suffocating temperatures was Ray Allen, the ageless one, who finished three drives in the third that put the Heat up, including a dunk in traffic on a fast break. I let out a “WTF.” The Spurs had their 18th turnover or thereabouts at that time. The offense looked like it did vs the Mavericks. Nine TOs in the third quarter, ya’ll. Some of that was the Heat, some of it was the heat, and some was just trends. The Spurs have had some awful third periods this playoff season.
That fourth quarter belonged to Danny Green and LeBron James’ thigh cramps. Say what you will about how you would react etc, that means nothing when your leg is killing you. Still, the Spurs unleashed a fourth quarter that was reminiscent of the ones they put up against OKC and PDX. Danny Green got open, hit some shots, and even got a score in transition. The coolest thing about those shots? They were wide open ones that came from beautiful passes. Passes that weren’t so pretty in the third. Manu said they were sloppy in the first three – 20 turnovers in the first three quarters. “They are more athletic than us. Waiting 15 seconds for a pick and roll makes it harder.”
Know that this means nothing. The Spurs won game one in Miami last year. They lost the series. The Spurs jumped up on OKC in the first two games. After game four the entire fan base was ready to throw in the towel. We all know Miami will make some adjustments. We know the AC guys will make some too. LeBron likely won’t need to be carried off the floor and definitely won’t be looking for substitutions halfway into the third quarter.