The Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from a 13 point first half deficit to defeat the Miami Heat 105-94 in game one of the NBA Finals. Here are my thoughts on game one.
For much of the first half, it looked like the Heat were going to run away with game one. They led by as many as 13 and were getting big contributions from role players Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers. Battier had 13 points while Chalmers added 10 points. However, once Oklahoma City was able to tie the game in the second half, you could see they were going to run away with the game. Not only did they have the momentum, but they also had more energy, ran smarter plays, and were less careless with the ball.
Kevin Durant was huge in game one. He scored 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter. He also slowed LeBron James on the defensive end, though Thabo Sefolosha deserves more credit for his defense on James overall. It was the kind of performance on both ends of the floor you expect from the game’s best player. I said in a previous blog entry that the torch may be being passed from Kobe Bryant to Kevin Durant and at least for one game I don’t look foolish.
We often talk about how James and Wade are two of the best players on the league, which is true. However, in game one you would have thought that moniker belonged to Durant and Westbrook. Together, they outscored the entire Heat team in the second half 41-40. For the game, Durant had 36 points, 8 rebounds, and four assists while Westbook added 27 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. Most importantly, Westbrook had only 2 turnovers.
There is not much to say about Oklahoma City after game one except to hand out praise for smart, unselfish play and a never give up attitude. They started slow, but that can be partially attributed to nerves and five says off since winning the Western Conference Finals. This team is young, but scary good. If they stay together, they can contend for the next decade.
As for Miami, they have some problems. LeBron James had one of if not the best stat lines of his NBA Finals career with 30 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals, yet it still was not enough. As I said earlier, Battier and Chalmers stepped up. Wade was mediocre and Bosh had an off game so there is room for improvement there, but Miami has run into some problems. The Thunder are younger, more athletic, and faster version of the Heat. Added to the Heat’s problems is that Russell Westbrook did not shoot well and James Harden was non-existent. If you are Miami you have to win games when that happens.
There is also room to worry with James. He went 2-10 from outside the paint in game one. Dating back to game seven of the Celtics series, James is 3-20 from outside the paint. The good thing is James is finding his way to the paint and scoring. However, if the Thunder are able to minimize James’s ability to get into the paint it could spell trouble.
There seems to be quite a bit of debate as to whether or not the Heat should start Chris Bosh. I think head coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to bring Bosh off the bench has been the right call. James and Wade are playing with chemistry while bringing Bosh off the bench gives an anemic second unit some pop. Bosh will still get his minutes and play down the stretch, but I like the balance he brings off the bench.
Speaking of the bench, Miami needs to extend their bench. If you take away Bosh’s 34 minutes off the bench, Miami’s bench played saw a grand total of 12 minutes. Mike Miller received ten of those minutes and Joel Anthony received two minutes. For comparison, the Thunder had three players with over 20 minutes off the bench. James Jones should be back after missing game one with a migraine. I think Norris Cole and Ronny Turiaf need some run as well. Miami needs fresh legs otherwise Oklahoma City could run them off the court.
Miami fans need not worry. For as good and as dominant as the Thunder looked in game one, all it takes is one loss for many to change their tune. If the Heat win game two, the talk will shift from the Thunder’s dominance to whether or not the Thunder can win a game in Miami to bring the series back to Oklahoma City for a game six.
Was I the only one who thought Pat Riley looked like an evil genius with Alonzo Mourning as his evil henchman while standing in the crowd at game one?
Not everything is great about these NBA Finals. I know one thing that will annoy me is these fake glasses that Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and others sport. I don’t get it and never will. Be thankful if you don’t need glasses. Also Westbrook’s shirts are over the top. I know he does it on purpose but man, it cannot be easy to find such hideous apparel. Also, do we need to hear how this is the first all weather NBA Finals? Thank goodness the Magic and Wizards are in the same conference because I can only imagine the fun everyone would have with that one.