James battled cramps down stretch after air-con fault.
The San Antonio Spurs ‘big three’ were instrumental as they opened the NBA Finals 2014 with a comfortable win at home against the Miami Heat.
With an air-conditioning failure making it tough for the players on the court, the Spurs were able to handle the conditions while LeBron James was forced to leave the game down the stretch with cramps.
In the meantime, the Spurs pulled away to win the opener of the first Finals rematch since 1998, with Tim Duncan scoring 21 points and adding 10 rebounds.
Manu Ginobili added 16 points and 11 assists off the bench while Tony Parker had 19 points and eight assists after overcoming fears regarding his ankle as the Spurs capitalised on James’ absence despite the four-time MVP finishing with a game-high 25 points.
James suffered from cramping issues two years ago in the Finals, and had to ask for a break in the fourth quarter and was getting treatment during a 15-4 Spurs run that turned around the game.
While he did come back in to make a basket that cut it to two points with about four minutes left, he couldn’t even run back on defense after that and promptly raised up his hand and lingered at the baseline until help arrived to take him off.
However, Miami were outscored 36-17 in the fourth quarter with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scoring 19 and 18 points respectively, as they undoubtedly struggled to cope with the conditions in comparison to their rivals.
With so many overseas players on their roster, the likes of Parker and Ginobili conceded that they are used to playing without air-conditioning outside of the US, and it would have helped them get through the game.
Nevertheless, with James playing so many minutes in comparison to the Spurs with coach Gregg Popovich rotating his men well, the hosts were able to make the most of the situation but will have the problem fixed in time for Game 2 on Sunday.
Miami Heat 95-110 San Antonio Spurs