SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs held LeBron James without a field goal in the first half and led the Cleveland Cavaliers 40-35 in Game 1 of the NBA finals on Thursday night. Tim Duncan scored 14 points and Tony Parker had 12 for the Spurs, who mostly relied on their defense while occasionally struggling offensively in their first game in more than a week.
James was 0-for-7 from the field midway through his first NBA finals appearance, scoring four points on free throws and committing two turnovers. Sasha Pavlovic scored eight points and Daniel Gibson had seven to keep Cleveland close, but the Cavs shot only 36 percent (13-of-36).
The Spurs are playing for their fourth championship since 1999, while the Cavs are in the finals for the first time. Though San Antonio is the clear favorite, Cleveland is hoping a defense patterned after the Spurs — Cavs coach Mike Brown was an assistant to Gregg Popovich here for three years — and plenty of James on offense would be enough to pull the upset
But as great as James is, that can probably only happen if his supporting cast plays well.
"You don't get here alone," commissioner David Stern said before the game. "Not even the greatest of the great get here alone."
But it was James, not his teammates, who struggled to get going.