Photo by Rodolfo Roman
By Mike Biana
Follow him on Twitter @mikebiana
SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs didn’t need air conditioning to beat the Heat—both the team and the actual temperature—in Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals.
With Miami down 94-90 with under 5 minutes left in the game, LeBron James drove hard to the hoop for a layup to bring his team to within two points of San Antonio.
That was the last time he’d see the court for the night.
James promptly exited the game, walking off to the sidelines before being carried to the bench by his teammates. It appeared that his left leg had cramped up, deeming The King all but useless for the rest of the night. The culprit? A shortage in the electrical circuits that caused the air conditioning in the building to fail, heating the AT&T Center up to 90 degrees at the start of the 4th quarter.
You could almost hear all the conspiracy theories now, especially considering we’re just one Super Bowl removed from the lights going out in the 3rd quarter between San Francisco and Baltimore. (I still believe it was Beyonce’s halftime show that burned out all the electricity in the building.)
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra dismissed the idea as laughable. “That would take an incredible mind to try to plan that,” he said postgame.
It was a difficulty that both teams had to battle, and both Spoelstra and Gregg Popovich noted they had to make substitutes much more frequently to prevent their players from becoming too exhausted.
With James out of the lineup, the Spurs capitalized on both ends of the floor. Danny Green, who burned Miami for a record 25 treys in last year’s NBA Finals, was held scoreless by LeBron through the first three quarters; he came alive in the fourth, draining not one, not two, but three shots from downtown. In the final 3:59 of the game, the Heat sputtered and scored only three points, resulting in a lopsided final score of 110-95.
It was a disappointing end to an otherwise competitive game. The teams exchanged the lead several times, and both enjoyed short spurts of great momentum. The glaring turning point, of course, was James having to come out of the game.
This isn’t the first time it’s happened to the four-time league MVP. He experienced cramping in the 2012 Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder and even as recently as the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. James required 2.5 bags of IV after the game just to rehydrate.
The No-AC&T Center (my new name for the Spurs’ home arena) has since fixed the problems with the air-conditioner, so that shouldn’t be a problem for Game 2 on Sunday night. Now, it’s up to Miami to bring the heat on the court and try to steal one before heading back home to the AmericanAirlines Arena.