The Internet was just giving LeBron James the business after the Game 1 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Social media, Photoshop and Midol logos can be very spiteful things when being anonymously wielded to tear down a champion. When James left that game at the 3:59 mark with a severe cramp, non-athletes from across the country eviscerated him for not soldiering on and finishing the game. James and his Miami Heat compatriots would eventually lose the game by 15 points due in large part to the failure of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to provide offense in the fourth quarter.
After their sensational finish to Game 1, the Spurs picked up right where they left off, making 10 of their first 15 shots. They opened an 11-point lead early in the second before James got going. But as we watched Game 2, we witnessed two factors that would determine the game's outcome: Chris Bosh's insistence upon attacking the rim player and the San Antonio Spurs' failure to hit free throws late in the game. Who would have thought fans would witness those two events occurring in the same state or in the same year, let alone the same game? But that's exactly what happened.
LeBron James provided the usual blend of violent forays to the basket with clutch shooting, from 15 feet out to three point range, and finished with 35 points and 10 rebounds; but Bosh's 18 points were crucial in helping the Heat overcome an 11-point lead in the 2nd quarter as the Spurs' offense committed multiple turnovers while becomming stagnant. Spurs fans had hoped a first quarter in which LeBron James shot a lousy 1 for 4 with four turnovers would be indicative of how he would play the rest of the game, but James would hit 11 of his next 13 shots as he seemed to thumb his nose at the defensive efforts of both Boris Diaw and Kawhi Leonard, who fouled out and was largely ineffective on offense and defense for the second game in a row. Parker and Tim Duncan missed four straight free throws when they had a two-point lead in the fourth, and late turnovers, coupled with bad shot selection, by Manu Ginobili were difficult to overcome as well. Tony Parker scored 21 points and Duncan had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs, who had won eight straight at home by at least 15 points.
Wade and Rashard Lewis each scored 14 points for the Heat, who also dropped Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Oklahoma City two years ago. They have won five straight series after dropping the opening game. Once again, Marco Belinelli was absent when needed most and Danny Green's 9 points were ineffectual as well. Now the series is headed back to Miami and the Heat fans will be chomping at the bit. This goes without saying, but the Spurs uncharacteristically squandered a valuable opportunity in this 98-96 loss.