They probably ruined Tim Duncan’s hopes of a career change, though.
Duncan wants to be a point guard, coach Gregg Popovich revealed Saturday, a wish that won’t be granted. But Duncan would gladly settle for another championship, and the Spurs would be halfway there by beating Miami tonight in Game 2.
The Spurs have won eight straight postseason home games by 15 or more points, an NBA record, but know as well as anyone that a one-game lead means nothing against the Heat.
“That’s why I think we can’t be satisfied,” said point guard Tony Parker, who isn’t worried about losing his job to Duncan. “Because we was in the same situation and we know they can win here, and so we just have to go out there and play our game and try to win this one. I think it’s a big game for the series.”
LeBron James expects to be fully ready for the Heat, who also dropped the opener last year in the finals against the Spurs, and in 2012 to Oklahoma City. Miami is 5-0 in series with James when dropping the opener, rebounding to win Game 2 every time.
A 2-0 deficit would surely bring loads of unwanted attention to what’s already one of the most scrutinized players and teams in sports.
“I’m sure the series would be over from the outside,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said, laughing.
“Our focus is on how we can win ballgames and understand in the series it’s the first one to four; not the first one to one, not the first one to two, not the first one to three. You win a series by being the first one to four. We understand the journey, we understand the path and what it takes to get there.”
The Heat were in position to win Game 1 before James departed with cramps. The Spurs committed 23 turnovers that not only led to 28 Miami points but also prevented them from getting the ball more often to Duncan, who shot 9-of-10 from the field.
Popovich said Duncan never demands more shots, even when he is in a good rhythm like he was Thursday.
“No, the only thing Timmy has ever demanded is he wants to play the point and he thinks I’ve held him back,” Popovich said. “True story. He thinks he’s a point guard.”
Duncan is one of the best power forwards in NBA history but likes to think like a little guy, though he realizes he hurt his chances of getting to actually play the part of one.
“After my five turnovers the other night, I think I took a step back from that,” he said. “I don’t think that I’m going to be able to step up and fill that role for a little while. But, no, I enjoy getting in the middle of the floor and making decisions and getting the ball to the right place, and that’s what a point guard’s got to do.”
The Spurs don’t need one, not after Parker looked healthy while posting 19 points and eight assists in the opener after missing the second half of the Western Conference finals clincher because of a sore left ankle. He laughed when told that Popovich and Duncan had brought up his teammate’s aspirations.
“Are we still talking about that? I can’t believe they brought it up in the NBA Finals,” Parker said. “It’s been a joke that Timmy thinks he’s a great quarterback, that he can be a good passer. I disagree with that. I want to keep my spot.”
With Parker seemingly fine, James’ health remained the focus. He practiced Saturday and was still receiving treatments in hopes of preventing more cramping. It also should help that the air conditioning inside the AT&T Center has been repaired, but he won’t be worrying about that, anyway.
“You can’t think about what may happen in the third or fourth quarter. Live in the moment,” James said. “And for me, whatever I can give my teammates if it happens again, hopefully I can make an impact while I’m on the floor and that’s all that matters to me.”
The Spurs knocked James into a 2-0 hole in the 2007 finals, but that was when he was still in Cleveland. The team James is on now gets out of trouble just as quickly as it gets into it.
“That’s why they are two-time champs,” Parker said. “To win championships, you have to face adversity and come back from any situation, and they’ve proved that over the years. That’s why it’s our job to stay focused and we know it’s just one game, and we know they’re capable to come back and win at our place.”