2013 NBA Finals: LeBron James fatigued by Spurs in Game 1

USA TODAY Sports

The struggle to get through the Eastern Conference playoffs caught up with the Miami Heat and LeBron James in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The Miami Heat couldn't finish off the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. LeBron James admitted fatigue was a factor, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst.

James asked for a rare breather to start the fourth quarter and Miami was able to maintain a three-point lead with their leader out for the first three minutes. But his return didn't spark the Heat, and the Spurs kicked their game into a winning gear Miami was unable to match.

For more on this series, check out: Heat blog Hot Hot Hoops Spurs blog Pounding the Rock

After the physical pounding the Heat and LeBron endured during their seven-game series with the Indiana Pacers, the level of effort to keep up with the Spurs remains the same, although in a different way, as Windhorst reports.

Not only was James working to remain a presence in the paint and on the glass, but he was also keeping an eye on perimeter shooters. So while playing Indiana required the endurance of a distance runner to continue grinding through the physical play, the Spurs require more sprint plays with short bursts required to cover inside and out.

The other issue for LeBron is his ability to bring it every night while other key players on the Heat, namely Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh pick their spots. Via Windhorst:

"It is tough. But it is what it is," James said. "I put myself in a position to try to do everything for this team, a little bit of everything, and put myself in a position to win. It's very challenging mentally, physically. But you have to figure out a way to just have will at this point of the season. There's not too many days left. There's no room for excuses."

Wade and Bosh showed up big in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but James was left to do the heavy lifting for the bulk of the series against the Pacers. The cumulative effect of carrying the load for the Heat throughout the playoffs showed up in Game 1.

With an extra off-day in the Finals, James has more time to recharge and get ready for Game 2. But he will need some help to lead the Heat to another NBA Championship.

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