- Series hub: Heat vs. Spurs
24 — Few times are filled with more excitement and dripping with anticipation than moments before Game 1 of The Finals. First, we get the lovely 12-year-old Julia Dale belting out the national anthem for the 23rd straight postseason game. Then, the White Stripes’ anthem Seven Nation Army. Rip it off!
23 — Rust? What rust? Tony Parker comes out of the box wielding the pick and roll like Zorro’s sword and carves up the Heat early for a 9-2 lead.
22 — ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy sums up those Chris Bosh 3-point shots quite accurately. If he wants to take them for the next week or so, the Spurs will be quite happy.
21 — What does more than a decade and a half of throwing your body all over basketball courts around the globe do to you? If you’re 35-year-old Manu Ginobili, it means you can’t quite elevate to finish off that nice crossover drive with a dunk.
20 — Tim Duncan (0-for-5) was having problems finding his offensive rhythm, but getting his second foul on LeBron James’ drive with 1:43 left in the first quarter sends him to the bench and presents problems for the Spurs defense.
19 — The Heat are getting the ball inside for the shots they want and hit three treys in the first quarter, while the Spurs are missing easy, open looks.
18 — First big disappointment of The Finals. Episode No. 1 of “The Pop Show” is a flop as Gregg Popovich fails to bite the head off sideline reporter Doris Burke and actually answers her questions civilly.
17 — Ray Allen and Mike Miller might ask the Spurs’ perimeter defenders to pass the sunscreen and serve some cold drinks. This soft — or nonexistent — pressure at the 3-point line is making it look like a relaxing day at the beach for Miami shooters.
16 — By the way, I’m totally with Van Gundy. One of the first acts for new commissioner Adam Silver when he takes over next February should be changing The Finals format back to 2-2-1-1-1. The 2-3-2 setup is the NBA’s equivalent of penalty kicks in soccer and the DH in baseball — an idea that never was good.
15 — Get a good look at Gary Neal right now. If he doesn’t start knocking down those open jumpers, Pop will stuff him away in the luggage until the Spurs get back to Texas … or maybe even until next October.
14 — Give Erik Spoelstra credit for pushing all the right buttons in the first half. He’s already gone 11 deep and his bench has outscored the Spurs’ bench 19-10.
13 — When’s the last time Dwyane Wade looked as comfortable, as active, as good this spring? Never. His 13 points are his highest-scoring first half of the playoffs. But the Spurs can’t be totally unhappy, all things considered. They’re missing open shots, not getting back in transition, yet trail by just 52-49 at the half.
12 — What’s got the Heat feeling happiest at the half? They don’t have to spend the break icing down those bruises that were so often delivered by Roy Hibbert and the Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.
11 — Gotta like that Bosh has had the sense to move in from the 3-point line and work instead from 18-foot range for jumpers and drives. That mid-range shot that drives all of the stat geeks into screaming fits has a much undervalued place in today’s game.
10 — Floppers go home. Give the referees credit in this one. They stood by and watched Ginobili flop to the ground as Wade rose up and stuck the turnaround and they didn’t call anything. “Get up and play!” is the correct message.
9 — The kid is all right. The 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard is playing his first Finals game with the impossible task of guarding LeBron and he’s acquitted himself well, holding his own in the post.
8 — If the Heat are going to be able to outrebound the Spurs in every game, they’ll be getting fitted for another set of rings.
7 — 72-69 Heat after three quarters doesn’t quite feel right. Seems like Miami is in complete control and seems like the Spurs can’t get their act together at either end and yet it’s still a toss-up into the final period.
6 — Uh-oh. Look who takes their first lead since the first quarter. Parker’s free throws put Spurs in front 77-76 and this game is looking more and more like the wallet hanging out of a drunk man’s pocket, ready to be stolen.
5 — The facts, and your own eyes, will tell you what you already should know — Parker is the best point guard in the NBA right now and has been right there with LeBron as the top two performers in the 2013 playoffs.
4 — Big switch down the stretch as Spoelstra shifts LeBron over to guarding Parker. It’s what we all expected in the clutch.
3 — It’s a game of less than inches. It takes only about a zillion replays to finally show that Parker got off his desperate clutch shot a millisecond ahead of the shot clock.
2 — Go figure. LeBron rings up another triple-double, but it is outdone by Danny Green with a quad-triple. That’s four 3-pointers by the kid who finished last year’s Western Conference finals to OKC riding the bench.
1 — Parker’s 10-point fourth quarter and that amazing shot that just beat the buzzer were pretty. But the Spurs won this one with defense. Miami shot just 5-for-18 in the fourth quarter with five turnovers. LeBron and Wade combined for six points on 2-for-6 shooting and the Spurs win 92-88.