After watching Game one of the NBA Finals, it is evident that LeBron James’s presence on the court is crucial to Miami’s success. With James suffering from cramps and not able to return to the game during the fourth quarter, the level of play from the Heat dropped on offense and defense. It seemed as if their team identity was gone within minutes.
On the other hand, if James had not left the game, we would be talking about a totally different ball game, a game that would have went down to the buzzer. Nevertheless, Game one is done and if Miami plans to win Game two, they must play aggressive on defense, continue to strive for balance on offense and win the battle on the boards.
Obviously, LeBron James cannot win the game by himself. The sign of cramps goes much further than simply the air condition failure in the building. Like a true NBA star, he has played numerous minutes and contributed stellar production on offense.
However, the offensive production from Wade, Bosh and Allen is important for the Heat also, in terms of winning. Last game, Bosh scored 18 points, followed by Wade with 19 and Allen with 16 points. Their production was good, but they must remain consistent. Because Miami lacks a strong bench, which only scored four points last game, consistency will be key for them in tonight’s game.
Rashard Lewis will be the X-factor. Although only scoring 10 points in the last game, he has the ability to stretch the floor for Miami on offense with his three point shooting ability. If he can score anywhere from 15 to 20 points each game, plus the offensive production from the “Big Three” and a stronger level of play from the bench, the Heat will thrive on offense and ultimately take pressure off of LeBron James.
Up until James left the game, the Heat played well on defense, forcing the Spurs to commit 22 turnovers. However, they allowed Manu Ginoboli to get in a groove on offense, scoring 16 points off the bench. Not to mention, other players coming off the bench for the Spurs combined for 18 points, compared to four points by the Heat. This must change. In most cases, you are not going to win a game with 22 turnovers. However, with James sidelined in the critical moments of a NBA Finals game, this is what happens.
After James left the game, Danny Green became a major contributor for the Spurs in the fourth quarter, scoring 11 of his 13 points. The Heat must limit his three point shot opportunities by defending the three-point line.
Tony Parker, well, he will remain Tony Parker but he can be contained. It is not so much of his points, but his penetration to the basket and ability to make plays causes problems for the Heat. Thus, coach Erik Spoelstra must find way to contain him.
Lastly, rebounding will definitely become an X-factor throughout the series. San Antonio won the battle on the boards, 39-29. Last game, Tim Duncan scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Boris Diaw had two points but snagged 10 huge rebounds for the Spurs. Bosh grabbed 10 rebounds but Chris Anderson only had three rebounds.
All, Miami must dominate the boards, commit fewer turnovers on offense and continue to help James on offense to win this game.
Game two is set for tonight at 8:30 p.m. eastern time on ABC from the AT& T Center in San Antonio, Texas.