NBA Finals 2013: Heat struggle, Spurs shine in fourth quarter of Game 1

USA TODAY Sports

The Heat had a three-point lead going into the 4th quarter but were unable to close out the Spurs. Miami's poor shooting (27 percent from the field) and sloppy ball-handling (four turnovers) were just enough to give the Spurs the edge.

The San Antonio Spurs pushed to a quick seven-point lead in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, forcing Erik Spoelstra to call a timeout. Miami took control of the game after that, and it wasn't until the 7:45 mark in the fourth quarter that San Antonio was able to reclaim the lead.

Through the first three quarters, Miami was shooting six percentage points better than San Antonio, had four more rebounds and assists and had only four turnovers. The Heat's three-point shooting was locked in through that period, making 40 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. Miami held a three-point lead going into the fourth, but would ultimately see that three-point lead turn into a three-point defeat as they struggled in the final frame.

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Miami made only five of their 18 field goals in the final quarter of the game, missed all five of their three-point attempts and made only one shot from outside the paint. Here's a shot chart displaying their fourth quarter struggles from the field:

Heatsa1_medium

LeBron James and Chris Andersen were the only two Heat players who made more than one field goal in the fourth quarter. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined to go 1-of-7 from the field, and Miami was outscored 23-16 to close out the game.

While the Heat struggled to score, they also had issues controlling the ball. Miami had four turnovers in the fourth quarter, equaling their turnover total from the previous three quarters. San Antonio scored six points off of those four turnovers.

James' turnover at the six-minute mark came at a critical point for Miami. Kawhi Leonard intercepted James' bounce pass to Wade in the post and gave the ball up to Tony Parker. What followed was this spinning layup that pushed the Spurs' lead to three, and completed the momentum shift in the Spurs' favor:

Spinparker_medium

In contrast, the Spurs only turned the ball over four times total, which turned into eight points for Miami. The Spurs final turnover was at the 3:51 mark in the third quarter. After the game, all Gregg Popovich had to say about his team's control of the ball was, "We don't do no-turnover drills."

While the Heat suffered from a fourth-quarter meltdown, Parker's fourth quarter effort gave the Spurs' offense just enough push to finally break away. Parker played under control through the game and committed no turnovers against Miami's aggressive defense. He shot 50 percent from the field overall and made four of his eight field goals in the fourth. Spoelstra assigned James the task of defending Parker late in the fourth, but it was too late as Parker had already given the Spurs the lead.

Miami was the first team to flinch in an otherwise well-executed game of basketball. After holding the lead for nearly three-quarters of the game, the Heat's fourth quarter could haunt them as they now trail the Spurs in the Finals.

Quotes via the NBA's live press conference stream.

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