Miami, FL – Game 1 of the NBA Finals is shaping up to be a barn-burner.
The Miami Heat did not trail in the second quarter, but the San Antonio Spurs stayed close and pulled within 52-49 at halftime thanks to a late eruption by Tim Duncan.
Dwyane Wade has looked like his old self after a mediocre playoff performance thus far, as the former Finals MVP paced the defending champs with 13 points.
LeBron James has 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a typical all- around performance by the league MVP, while Miami's bench has accounted for 19 points to 10 for San Antonio's reserves.
The Heat survived the pesky Indiana Pacers to come out of the Eastern Conference, rolling to a 23-point victory in Game 7 on Monday to keep their hopes of a title repeat alive.
They stayed hot by making 50 percent of their shots in the opening half Thursday, including a 6-of-15 effort from behind the arc, and led by as many as nine before Duncan got going.
Duncan was in early foul trouble and missed his first five shots before recovering to score all 12 of his points over the final eight minutes of the second quarter.
Tony Parker and Danny Green have nine points apiece for the Spurs, who swept the Memphis Grizzlies in the West finals and had nine full days to prepare for their first Finals appearance since 2007.
That year, the Spurs swept James' Cleveland Cavaliers in four lopsided games, though 11 of the 15 current players on the Spurs roster did not play in that series.
Despite the plethora of new blood and seemingly too much rest, the Spurs have not looked rusty, at least early, as they overcame a turnover on the game's first possession and rattled off the next nine points in swift succession.
Erik Spoelstra, the eighth head coach in NBA history to bring a team to three straight finals, called a timeout and effectively quelled San Antonio's momentum.
Miami scored 11 of the next 13 points with James driving in for an easy two and a 13-11 Heat lead near the midway point of the opening quarter.
Duncan committed his second foul with 1:43 on the clock and was benched until there was 7:55 remaining in the half. By that time, the Heat built a 38-29 advantage thanks to 3-pointers by reserves Ray Allen, Mike Miller and Norris Cole in the early portion of the second quarter.
Duncan immediately revived the Spurs, as the three-time Finals MVP scored inside, got an offensive rebound that led to a Green 3-pointer and added two free throws on a 7-0 Spurs run.
Still, the Heat stayed in front with Wade scoring on three consecutive possessions and Cole finishing a tough layup in traffic for a 46-38 Heat cushion with 4 1/2 minutes to go before halftime.
Duncan barely beat the halftime buzzer with a 20-footer to keep the Spurs within striking distance.