SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The list of things the San Antonio Spurs did superbly in the opening game of the NBA Finals is textbook: shooting, defense, rebounding and assists.
But coach Gregg Popovich knows that the Spurs will not beat the Miami Heat over a full series and claim their first championship since 2007 if they cannot control turnovers.
San Antonio committed 22 on Thursday but did everything else so wonderfully, the result was a 110-95 victory.
“Both teams were a little bit sloppy in that regard (Miami had 16) for sure and it’s always frustrating to a coach,” Popovich told reporters on Friday.
”Some turnovers were forced, some unforced. But the unforced ones are the ones that drive you really crazy. For us, that’s always a bad sign. We escaped last night by shooting the ball the way we did, I guess.
“So if that continues, we’re going to have a big problem.”
Spurs guard Tony Parker agreed with Popovich.
“I still feel lucky because when we have 20‑plus turnovers, we lose those games,” said Parker, who had 19 points, eight assists but four turnovers in the series opener.
”We definitely have to take care of the ball, that’s one of the keys. Don’t get me wrong, we have to give credit to Miami’s defense and I think we have to play a little bit better.
“And if we want to win Game Two, we have to take care of the ball.”
San Antonio guard Danny Green, who hit all four of his fourth-quarter shots, including three three-pointers, said the Spurs were fortunate to win with that many miscues.
“Twenty-two turnovers against a team like that, and win the game, is very rare,” he said. “It doesn’t happen. The approach we should have is take that game as a loss because normally we wouldn’t win a game like that with 22 turnovers.”
The Spurs shot nearly 60 percent, played smart defense, held a 39-29 edge in rebounds and a 30-16 advantage in assists.
Popovich, a perfectionist who is rarely pleased, said Miami missed a lot of open shots, something he cannot count on when the best-of-seven series continues on Sunday night in San Antonio.
”We made a good number of mistakes,“ he said. ”They missed some wide, wide open shots that they had, that scare you to death once you watch the film.
“That’s not just blowing smoke or an exaggeration. There were about seven or eight wide‑open threes they had that just didn’t go down.”
Green said because the Spurs and Heat only play twice a season they do not know each other’s tendencies that well. He expects a “cleaner game” on Sunday.
”Both teams were kind of sloppy (in Game One) and not crisp in execution,“ he said. ”I‘m sure Game Two will be a lot different.
“And hopefully for us, we’ll take care of the ball a lot better.”
Editing by Gene Cherry