June 06, 2014

#Spurs win Game 1, with good signs for #NBAFinals

Good sign No. 1? That's the health of Tony Parker and his ankle injury. If not 100 percent, he surely looked 85 percent. And, with an extra day of rest again until Sunday's game 2, should remain OK.

Related to that, the Spurs depth at the point helped. Patty Mills looked good and Marco Belinelli did nothing embarrassing, other than a couple of turnovers.

Good sign No. 2? The Spurs won despite all those turnovers. Even with the heat problems, you can't blame a slippery ball. Those third quarter turnovers, half of them were on dumb passing decisions. Any that were related to a slippery ball, from trying to do too much in traffic? It's called making adjustments.

So, let's call that semi-bad sign No. 1. The Spurs were forcing a lot of stuff last night. They know better, or should.

Good sign No. 3? To quote Charles Barkley? Mannnnuuuuuuu! Manu Ginobili was a sparkplug in the first quarter and had a great all-around game. If he's bringing that to the Finals, it's all Spurs.

Good sign No. 4? The Spurs depth showing up in the heat. In contrast to LeBron James cramping up, the Spurs were able to keep a lot of players fresh. Above all, Tim Duncan was able to stay on the bench well into the fourth quarter because Tiago Splitter suddenly realized he can score.

Other good signs for San Antonio? One is that, with Mario Chalmers and his funk, if it continues PG advantage is huge. Another is that they did all of this with little offense from Kawhi Leonard; if he gets untracked, that's all the more.

On the Heat side, Ray Allen still looks dangerous. Rashard Lewis had a cameo of his old self again, but doesn't seem to be a consistent threat, and Chris Bosh was OK overall, but with a questionable attempt or two of a non-corner 3; that's not his shot. Shane Battier got a few minutes off the bench, but contributed little.

Notice that I didn't mention Dwyane Wade until now? He was solid, like most of this year's playoffs and unlike last year's Finals. However, he was unable to take over the game when LBJ went out. If James is down at all in Game 2, Wade's the key to the game. 

And, what will LBJ's condition be? I heard Shannon Sharpe say on ESPN Radio that he thinks the cramps could carry over. And, Grantland, as part of breaking down Game 1, talks about "Crampgate."

So, there we go. Overall, signs look good for the Spurs, other than the mass of turnovers. Count on Gregg Popovich to beat that into the ground. 

But, don't get too confident too easily. Duncan isn't going 9-10 every night. Ginobili, while he hopefully won't revert to last year's Finals, won't always be as good as Game 1. Yes, Boris Diaw, like Leonard, didn't score much, but he did a number of other things very well that he might not do quite so well night in and night out.

Finally, I thought LBJ played "chippy" on the physicality long before almost getting a flagrant foul call. If Jeff Van Gundy thinks Splitter was flopping there, he can eat my shorts. Related to that, it's long been my opinion that LBJ plays at times like a junior Shaq, especially on dropping his shoulder and throwing it.

Related to that, that's why I don't like three-person broadcast booths in basketball. It's hard enough to add a third voice in baseball or football; basketball's pace just doesn't provide room.

ABC should can SVG, and move Mark Jackson back out. Maybe get a replacement for Breen at play by play, too. Make Jalen Rose the color guy; bring him out from the studio and Bill Simmons' shackles.

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