Tony Parker takes a shot late in the fourth quarter in front of teammate Manu… (Brendan Smialowski / Getty…)
1. For all his accomplishments, Tony Parker remains underrated. The San Antonio point guard is a five-time All-Star who has won three NBA titles. And he still doesn’t get enough credit. His 10-point fourth quarter during the Spurs’ 92-88 victory over Miami in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night was another eye-opening example of his greatness. Included in that scoring barrage were an incredible spin move for a layup, a tough jumper to put San Antonio up by six points and that hanging, banked-in jumper over LeBron James at the end of the shot clock with 5.2 seconds left that accounted for the game’s final points. He was so good that he sent Eva Longoria into a Twitter tizzy, with his ex-wife tweeting, “Go Spurs Go! I say Spurs in 5!!!!”
2. The second-guessing of James is ridiculous. The Heat star recorded his third Finals triple-double, finishing with 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists, and he didn’t disappear in the fourth quarter, collecting six points and seven rebounds. Sure, he could have taken a few more shots and maybe driven more into the paint late in the game, but he wasn’t the reason the Heat wilted in the final minutes. Blame the loss on Miami’s four fourth-quarter turnovers and the combined two points from Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the quarter on one-for-seven shooting.
3. Bosh should shoot as many three-pointers in this series as Andrew Bynum does. Bynum isn’t playing in the Finals, of course, but the point remains. Bosh is not Ray Allen, or even Shane Battier. He finished the game 0 for 4 from three-point range, missing both of his attempts in the fourth quarter. The worst was the one he took with 1 minute 2 seconds left and the Heat trailing by four points. Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra took a not-so-subtle jab at Bosh after the game when he said there was a reason Bosh was open. He probably will be for the rest of the series.
4. Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green are already making a difference in this series for the Spurs. Leonard did a nice job when he defended James, whose seven-for-16 shooting included an inefficient one of five on three-pointers. Leonard also had a big tip-in in the fourth quarter that nudged San Antonio into the lead. Green made four three-pointers, helping the Spurs space the floor as a perimeter threat.
5. These are clearly the two best teams in the NBA. The series opener was crisply played and full of exceptional plays by extraordinary players. Neither team led by more than nine points and there was drama until the final seconds. Two things bode well for the Heat going forward: 1) It hasn’t lost consecutive games this season since January 8-10, and 2) Miami’s Big Three won the next four games in all three instances in which it lost a series opener (the most recent Eastern Conference semifinals against Chicago; last year’s NBA Finals against Oklahoma City and the 2010-11 conference finals against Chicago).
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