Mendoza: How can Heat burn with LeBron out?-A A +A
Friday, June 6, 2014
WHAT happens when your top gunner is out with the game on the line?
Or, better yet: How can you win a battle when your No. 1 artillery guy is out of commission at the most crucial stage of the encounter?
It would be fine if your top enforcer got sidelined long before the skirmish has started. A good leader can adjust quickly. And nicely. A substitute with unassailable credentials might plug the hole with much success.
But what about if the contest is on a ding-dong, is on the verge of between victory and defeat? With time running out, everything’s up in the air. No assurance. A touch-and-go affair could lead to inevitable chaos. Nosedive. Perdition.
That’s what happened yesterday to Miami Heat in Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals.
Losing twice its No. 1 player, LeBron James, in the last seven minutes or so with the game’s result still in the dark, Miami floundered and dropped a 110-95 decision to San Antonio.
James limped out on leg cramps after having fired 23 third-quarter points and San Antonio had inched to within 84-86 with 7:31 left in the game.
LeBron’s exit literally gave the cue for the Spurs to pour on the heat, detonating a 10-4 bomb for San Antonio’s 94-90 bubble after being down by seven.
James had been redeployed briefly after that, planting a quick drive to cut San Antonio’s margin to 94-92 when James succumbed to cramps a second time, 3:59 remaining.
San Antonio took advantage of LeBron’s never-to-return absence, firing five straight points on a third straight three by Danny Green and a basket by Manu Ginobili to make it a 99-92 Spurs lead with not more than 120 seconds left.
Then, with James cringing and aching from the bench as a pack of ice rests on his nape following an aircon breakdown at San Antonio’s The Arena, the Spurs unleashed an 11-3 finishing kick for the final 110-95 count anchored on a blistering 31-9 barrage propped up by 29 San Antonio assists and 17 Miami turnovers.
But then again, it would not have ended that way for Miami had James been around in the stretch. It’s elementary that without your main man, almost, you are bound to bungle it up.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 07, 2014.