Adrian Wojnarowski: ‘Conditions Impacted The Game’
All right, let’s get a few things out of the way.
One, getting cramps is not a character flaw. You can hate LeBron James all you want, but cramps are a part of athletic life.
And two, anyone criticizing James for not “toughing it out” and playing through cramps has clearly never had one.
“I saw Isiah Thomas after the game, and I wrote about this (online),” Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said on The John Feinstein Show. “When you think back to (great) NBA Finals performances, what Isiah did (in Game 6 in 1988) was something no one may ever duplicate – playing on one ankle (and) scoring 25 points in (the third) quarter with an ankle the size of a baseball. And he said, ‘Listen, Michael Jordan could not have played with those cramps. I could not have played with those. You can’t play. Anybody who’s had them knows they’re going to paralyze you.’”
“It’s easy to say afterward (that he should have played), but when your legs lock up, you can’t run. He couldn’t walk.”
It’s also not as if James randomly experienced cramps under normal circumstances. Rather, it was 90 degrees inside AT&T Center on Thursday, this after an air-conditioning failure left 19,000 people fanning themselves and in need of water.
And yet, James almost made it home.
“When he came back in the (fourth quarter) and scored immediately on (Boris) Diaw, you thought, Okay, he’s going to come back and do this,” Wojnarowski said. “But then he stood up underneath the basket and that was it. He couldn’t go anymore. He said he tried to check back in one more time, (but Erik Spoelstra) told him, ‘No, it’s over.’”
So, where does that leave us? The Spurs won, 110-95, but the game was neck-and-neck before James had to leave. It appears that we know as much today as we did yesterday in terms of how this series will unfold.
Which, if you’re curious, is not much.
“The Spurs held serve at home and did what they had to do to win there,” Wojnarowski said. “But you’re right. It was an even game really until (James) went out. Miami turned the ball over too much, there’s no question.”
The Heat had 16 turnovers. They forced 22, which they converted into 28 points, but they were out-rebounded 39-29 and were out-assisted a whopping 30-16.
That’s not all. Tim Duncan was virtually unstoppable – scoring 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting from the floor – while Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 35 points and 19 assists.
San Antonio’s bench also outscored Miami’s 34-20. If not for Ray Allen’s 16 points, the Heat bench would have been decimated.
But San Antonio entered the series as the deeper, more versatile team, and that certainly played out Thursday.
“The conditions did play a factor,” Wojnarowski said. “They did. Both teams had to substitute. Guys needed more rest than they normally would. It was a unique circumstance. And guys can say, ‘Hey, we played growing up in those conditions,’ and they have. Everybody’s played in hot gyms. But when guys don’t know it’s coming, it did impact the game, there’s no question – even beyond LeBron going out.”