As predicted by the pundits, the San Antonio Spurs dispatched the Cleveland Cavaliers 85-76 in Game 1 of the NBA Championship finals in San Antonio, on Thursday night.
The Spurs now need three more victories to secure their fourth league championship in ten years. The Cavaliers, an inexperienced squad compared to their veteran opponents, seemed star struck playing on basketball's biggest stage for the first time in team history.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, as expected, starred for the favourites. The trio combined for 68 of San Antonio's 85 points.
Duncan, one of the NBA's most underappreciated superstars, finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. Parker, a lightning rod at the point guard position, gashed the Cavaliers for 27 points and 7 assists.
Lebron James, Cleveland's home-grown 22 year old phenom, registered 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. He was never comfortable, however, shooting only 4 of 16 from the field and scoring most of his points after San Antonio had built a large lead.
Bruce Bowen, who was assigned the difficult task of containing James, helped cement his reputation as the NBA's top on-the-ball defender. He flustered James all night, forcing six costly turnovers and altering numerous shot attempts.
Early on, the defence of both teams was as good as advertised. After a back and forth struggle, Ginobli's three-point basket with two seconds left in the first half pushed San Antonio's lead to five. Most importantly, the shot swung momentum in favour of the Spurs at intermission.
A San Antonio spurt in the third quarter lifted the lead to 15 points heading into the final period. The Cavaliers managed to chip the deficit to eight with a few minutes left, but from there, couldn't get any closer. San Antonio coasted smoothly, matching Cleveland basket for basket until the final whistle.
Game 2 will be played on June 10, Sunday at 8:30 pm EST (6:00 am IST Monday) in San Antonio.