Tony Parker launched and hit his game-sealing jumper in Game 1 of the 2013 NBA Finals with an infinitesimal amount of time on the shot clock, putting the San Antonio Spurs' lead out of range for the defending title-holders, the Miami Heat.
Problem, though: there series is still young and the Heat are probably a little bit angry.
The anti-LeBron contingency got its fill in Game 1. Although he managed a triple-double with 18 points, 18 boards and 10 assists, he didn't shoot particularly well, making just one three on five attempts. After a brilliant defensive effort for 23 seconds, he jumped a bit too early to contest Parker's bank shot that gave the Spurs a four-point lead. He guessed that Paker -- who meandered from one side of the floor to the other, took a knee by accident and lost his dribble -- wouldn't be able to muster a second effort at the hoop. Parker did, and nailed it.
But it's pretty ineffective to spend one's time harping on the weaknesses of a guy who just put up a triple-double, and it's worth noting that in the past two NBA Finals -- both LeBron-related -- the team to lose the first game of the series has ended up winning. In 2011, the Mavericks stormed back from a 2-1 deficit to win in six, and last year, James and the Heat turned the afterburners on after a Game 1 loss.
So what needs to change for the Heat to win?
Can Chris Bosh do anything?
No, seriously, guys. Anything. This was supposed to be the Big Three, and now it's just the Big LeBron with a friend who has a gimpy knee and this raptor-looking dude who keeps bricking everything in sight. Bosh's 13 points on 16 shots in Game 1 was actually his best production in a bit, as he'd been held in single digits since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but it was still gross. Bosh decided to take an open three in the waning moments of Game 1, reminding me of the times I'd play pickup ball with my high school's team and my teammates would be like, "No, that was a good shot!" as I apologized for taking the three nobody was contesting.
Bosh is supposed to be an effective post player with a nice jumper. Instead he's just become this guy ruining good possessions for Miami. He will still get the opportunities he wants because he's Chris Bosh -- he says he's gonna keep shooting! -- and the size-strapped Heat ain't about to give Joel Anthony starter's minutes, but he has to convert on them.
Steve von Horn asked the same thing, and Paul Flannery wrote about that, as well as.... pig genitalia.
Can the Heat force turnovers?
The San Antonio Spurs committed four turnovers in Game 1. Four! There are four quarters in an NBA game. I have five fingers. There are seven days of the week. The average NBA team committed 14.53 turnovers per game during the regular season. The San Antonio Spurs just played a 48-minute basketball game and turned the ball over four times. The Heat played a wise game, possession-wise, and only turned the ball over eight times. This was twice as much as the Spurs.
The Miami Heat are a vicious defensive team with a bunch of athletes who shouldn't exist by the laws of nature. They trapped, and they trapped hard, with some of the strongest players in the league, switching up their coverages in hopes of flummoxing their opponent into making mistakes. But as Mike Prada showed, the Spurs beat those traps. They only turned the ball over four damn times. Four. Four. Four times.
The turnovers that didn't happen aren't just good possessions for the Spurs; they also stop the Heat, an incredibly talented fast break team from getting out in the open floor. It's tough to win a game when you only create four turnovers. Will the Heat make the Spurs cough the ball up, or will San Antonio stay impeccable?
Can Miami stop Tony Parker?
He's crafty and great and he managed to control the ball brilliantly with the hounds of hell unleashed upon him. There weren't many great individual performances in Game 1, but Parker's 21 points certainly qualifies.
Miami seems intent on putting Dwyane Wade on Parker, but towards the end of the game, LeBron James switched onto him. It was reminiscent of the way the team defended Paul George in the Eastern Conference Finals, hoping Wade could handle the other team's best wing option without James getting tired and then letting their best defender swap on late. But in Game 7 of that series, the Heat let James guard George, shutting him down and allowing Wade to focus on offense.
If Wade takes on Parker, as we expect, he'll probably struggle on a balky knee against a shifty, quick opponent. In the surprise scenario where James takes Parker, he'll get super-tired, super-quick. And in the very likely scenario James switches onto Parker late, we could see another winding, twisty miracle shot. Can the Heat figure out a defensive strategy against a player who might be too wiley for brilliant athleticism to make a difference?
But look, y'all: It's Game 2 of the NBA Finals after a brilliantly played Game 1. It's gonna be the world's best player against a tremendously effective squad that's designed its defense around stopping him, and we'll get to watch and see in real time if he'll manage to dominate regardless of whether his teammates are interested in picking up the slack.
I just really, really, really want to make sure you're watching, so here's the info on the game:
NBA Finals, Game 2: San Antonio Spurs vs. Miami Heat
8 p.m. ET
American Airlines Arena, Miami