The San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat tip it up for Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night in what has become a crucial game in this series.
The Spurs took the lead with a 92-88 victory in South Beach on Thursday. The Heat need to get a win on their home soil or face an 0-2 deficit heading to San Antonio for three games.
"I think the importance of a game, the urgency should already be there," said league MVP LeBron James. "That's what playoff basketball is all about. You can't afford to, you know, not play with a sense of urgency in a playoff game."
Urgency will be key as the Heat can hardly afford a huge hole like they would be in with a loss on Sunday.
They dropped Game 1 on Thursday despite a nine-point lead, and, despite a triple-double from James. He had 18 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists, but, unbelievably, it wasn't enough.
"I'm going to put myself and my team in a position to win. I have to try to make the plays," said James. "I can't worry about if people are saying, you should have done more, you should have been more aggressive, because you got a loss. Winning and losing is part of the game."
The Spurs put the defensive clamps on Miami in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter. Miami only managed 16 points in the final 12 minutes and 36 in the second half.
The Spurs did what they always do - play that strong defense, protect the basketball and execute down the stretch.
The defense was there, but the Spurs were historically great in terms of protecting the ball. San Antonio matched an NBA Finals record with just four turnovers in Game 1.
"I have no clue. We didn't do 'no turnover' drills," said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
And in the waning moments of Thursday's game, the Spurs were sensational.
Tony Parker scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and had the two signature moments of Game 1.
His tight spin move to the basketball was wizardly, but his hoop with less than six seconds to go iced the victory. Parker fell, kept his dribble, and with James draped on him, made a bank shot as the shot clock expired to give the Spurs a four-point lead.
"It was a crazy play. I thought I lost the ball three or four times. And it didn't work out like I wanted it to," Parker said after Game 1. "At the end I was just trying to get a shot up. It felt good when it left my hand. I was happy it went in."
It was a vintage San Antonio win with Parker and Tim Duncan leading the way. Duncan, a First-Team All-NBA player again this season, scored 20 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
The Spurs' secondary players were great as well. Kawhi Leonard held James reasonably in check and had a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Danny Green buried four 3-pointers en route to 12 points and Manu Ginobili added 13 off the bench.
For Miami, this whole series rests on the shoulders of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Both were below-average in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, and both were decent at best in Game 1.
Wade had 17 points, but was a non-factor late in Thursday's tilt. Bosh managed 13 points and five rebounds, but went 0-for-4 from the 3-point line, which appears to be Bosh's station anymore. Bosh missed a late long-range jumper that has gotten a lot of publicity.
"They can give it to me, I'll take it. I'll take any open shot," Bosh said on Saturday. "I just missed a couple -- I think one was a bad shot. I probably could have had a better option. If they want to leave me open, then that's cool with me."
The Spurs head back to the Alamo City on Tuesday night for Game 3.