MIAMI HEAT 100 @ OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 96
NBA FINALS * Game 2 * lead series, 1-0
Miami quieted the crowd early with a quick avalanche. It was the Miami we all had been expecting. Chris Bosh started and contributed, Shane Battier continued to make shots from downtown, LeBron James was being his usual self, and Dwyane Wade played like he just had his knee fixed in Germany. Kevin Durant said during the Game 1 post presser that they needed to get off to better starts. Well, being down 18-2 then 25-8 isn't exactly better. James Harden scored 10 quick points in the first off the bench for OKC but it wasn't nearly enough to offset Miami's huge lead.
Throughout the game, every time OKC would try to make a run, Miami would answer back. It didn't help that Kevin Durant got into foul trouble, especially in the 4th quarter. LeBron did a hell of a job defending Durant when he was on him. On the other side of the coin, the Thunder were going through hell trying to guard LeBron. And it wasn't made easier with Wade and Bosh playing well. Serge Ibaka did what he could on the defensive end (5 blocks) but you know how much of a pogo stick he is, regardless of the situation.
The Thunder's defense finally stepped it up in the fourth. And it took a while for Scott Brooks to take out Kendrick Perkins... >=(... for some strange reason. Without Perk, the defense was faster and they were able to close down on the open lanes much quicker. Even though Miami had a 13-point lead in the fourth, that defense enabled the Thunder to have one last push. Durant, despite having five fouls, took over the last quarter like he had been doing this entire postseason. A 12-3 run cut the lead down to four. As Erik Spoelstra would put it, the Thunder were grinding with passion. More bumpin' and grindin' by the Thunder cut the lead down to 94-91.
LeBron came up big with a bank shot afterwards, though. And some dribble penetration by Wade led to a Bosh dunk that put the Heat up seven. Durant came back with a quick lay-up with 50 seconds left... and when the trapping worked for OKC, Durant followed it up with a quick 3 to get them within two, 98-96.
After a miss by Miami, Durant had a chance to tie it but his shot fell short (LeBron was holding him down and there was a no-call) with nine seconds left. LeBron James destroyed the narrative a bit later with freethrows to put away the game.
LeBron came through in the homestretch and finished with 32 points. Wade looked like his old self as he had 24 points. Shane Battier made big shots once again; he had 17 points. And the Bosh start proved fruitful; he scored 16 points and pulled down 15 boards. Guys like Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers also contributed well in terms of handling the ball and playing defense.
Durant finished with 32 points while Russell Westbrook had 27-8-7. Harden, after a fast start, ended up with 21 points.
Did that no-call make a difference? Sure. But let's remember that throughout the game, the refs will miss calls. They're not perfect (also, Durant said in his postgame presser that he just missed the shot... and nothing else). Wanna blame it on something? It wouldn't come down to a no-call if the Thunder weren't down, 18-2, in their house. It's worth repeating; Durant said that they have to get off to better starts. They didn't and that cost them the game.
Brooks' rotations will also come into question. Perkins... >=(... is not a good match-up anywhere as long as the Heat don't put a real 5 in there. Until then, he'll be a liability on offense... and he'll have a hard time going up against the quick Miami squad. Nick Collison, who was a huge factor in Game 1 but only basically a cameo in Game 2, is quicker to the ball and quick at beating people to their spots (which is why he's so great at drawing charges). And he's not plodding on the offensive end; he's good at cutting and the pick-and-rolls. Get him more PT, Scott.
But what a great game. And Miami did what they had to do; get the split and go back home with a tied series. You also gotta love LeBron's mental focus; that fear of the big moment was absent the whole game.
Game 3 on Sunday promises to be a good one.
For a unique recap of Game 2, check out the Twitter Play-By-Play.