The enduring legacy of Game 1 of the 2014 NBA Finals won’t be Tim Duncan’s double-double or the fact that the Spurs shot 14-of-16 from the floor in the fourth quarter.
No, the enduring legacy will be the air conditioning – or lack thereof.
“Yeah, it was hot,” Sporting News NBA writer Sean Deveney said on The Morning Show. “There’s no question. You got a sense (of) that early on, and then when you start putting 19,000 people into a confined (space), it’s going to get hotter and hotter. It was definitely over 90 (degrees) in there. The lines for beer and water were a little extra long. They were handing out fans to people so people could try to cool off. There’s no question that it was very, very unpleasant in there.”
Indeed, an air-conditioning failure transformed the AT&T Center from a basketball arena to a sauna, with substitutions from both sides coming early and often. By the second quarter, Deveney knew something was wrong; by halftime, he knew it wasn’t getting better.
“Most of us knew something was wrong early (in the) second quarter,” Deveney said. “That’s when word started to spread that something with the AC (wasn’t working) and that it was going to be very hot. They did tell us at one point – not officially, but word had spread – that they fixed it. But that obviously wasn’t the case.”
Both teams struggled to play through the heat, especially, well, the Heat. LeBron James left the game with cramps, and Miami was outscored 36-17 in the fourth quarter. San Antonio won, 110-95.
“I would say that Miami, for the most part, played the way it wanted to play, and the fact that they were able to force 23 turnovers, I mean, that’s their game,” Deveney said. “But the fact is, they didn’t capitalize (enough) on (them).”
Miami’s 23 turnovers resulted in 28 points.
“Usually when you force 23 turnovers, you’re going to wind up with 40 or so points off turnovers,” Deveney said. “The Heat didn’t capitalize the way they (usually do), so that’s a real problem.”
So is Miami’s point guard play. Mario Chalmers played just 17 foul-plagued minutes, and he and backup Norris Cole combined for five points and seven turnovers.
“That’s not going to cut it,” Deveney said.
It was nice getting 16 points from Ray Allen – which included a throw-it-down dunk in transition – but Miami’s other reserves had just four points combined.
“I think Miami has some things that it can kind of hang its hat on and say, ‘Okay, we just need to clean up these areas and we’ll be okay,’” Deveney said. “But it’s hard to say what else Miami’s going to get – unless they can get some more from that point guard spot. That’s the glaring weakness right now.”
James being carried off the court wasn’t exactly good for morale, either. James has a history of cramping issues, but will Game 1 affect his legacy?
“If the Heat win, then you sort of file this away,” Deveney said. “Some people are never going to forgive LeBron for being LeBron, but I think that if they go on and win the series, you just sweep (what happened in Game 1) under the rug.”
Game 2 is Sunday in San Antonio. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. ET.