Spurs Take Game One; Karl Out in Denver

Tony Parker
Parker scored 21 last night including the clincher with five seconds left.

When I took the San Antonio Spurs to win the NBA Finals in six games over the Miami Heat I did so thinking that the Heat would probably win game one. I surmised that Miami would take advantage of the Spurs’ nine day lay-off and although beaten up from their series with Indiana I figured they’d get by in game one.

Well, as Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.” The Spurs weren’t exactly ‘on their game’ early but they finished with just four turnovers in the 92-88 win over the Heat. Tony Parker hit a bumbling and stumbling 15-footer with just five seconds remaining to give the Spurs their margin of victory.

In the 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals, game two suddenly takes on greater significance for Miami than other game twos might. Heading to Texas down 0-2 would be a severe deficit even for a Heat team with LeBron James.

Tim Duncan
Duncan started slowly but finished with 20 points and 14 boards.

San Antonio got 20 points from Tim Duncan who looked rusty in missing his first five shots but then recovered quickly to have a very nice game. He added 14 rebounds and three blocked shots as well. Parker finished with 21 points and Manu Ginobili finished with 13. LeBron finished with 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists to earn his second straight Finals’ triple-double but was held to just two of eight when guarded by the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh chipped in with 17 and 13 points respectively but Bosh had just two in the final quarter.

The biggest adjustment the Heat have to make going into game two is getting to the hoop. San Antonio clamped down in the second half and forced the Heat to kick out a lot more than they would normally like and the shots weren’t falling. Much like they struggled finding a consistent outside shot in the conference finals, they can’t afford the same scenario in game two.

If the Heat and their fans have anything to be happy about today it’s this; With the Big Three on board, when the team loses game one of a playoff series they come back to win the next four. This held true of course in the NBA Finals last year as well. While that isn’t impossible here, I just don’t see it happening against the veteran Spurs.

I do however look for the Heat to bounce back and grab game two by pushing the full-court game.

Coach of the Year Out in Denver –  How prophetic George Karl turned out to be… A month ago on the Dan Patrick Show he said winning the coach of the year award was very humbling but it also was known to be a kiss of death among NBA coaches. Karl got the kiss from Denver yesterday as the Nuggets chose not to extend his contract and let him walk.

Karl has been in Denver nine years and his teams have been in the playoffs in each of those seasons. The problem? Only one of those teams advanced past the first round of the playoffs and great regular seasons just don’t keep jobs anymore.

I look for Karl to spend very little time on the basketball coaches’ unemployment lines. There are openings in New Jersey and with the LA Clippers which is exactly where most think he’ll end up. His style of play could fit perfectly with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the rest of the Clippers who clearly like to get out and run the court. One way or another, I can’t see George Karl away from the sidelines very long.