After trailing 54-47 at halftime, Oklahoma City would go on to outscore Miami 58-40 in the final 2 quarters to knock off the Heat in game 1 of the NBA Finals 105-94 and take a 1-0 series lead.
Thunder star Kevin Durant scored 17 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter. He also finished with 8 rebounds and 4 assists.
DURANT LEADS THE THUNDER CHARGE
His performance in last night’s game only validated what I’ve believed for quite a while now…
Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA. Period.
Kevin’s 36 points was the 2nd-best Finals debut in league history, only behind Allen Iverson and his 48. He had an extremely efficient night shooting from the field as he went 12 for 20 and 4 for 8 from three-point range. His 17 fourth-quarter points look even better considering the Heat only scored 21 in the final 12 minutes.
The limelight in this series will constantly be shined on the Durant/James matchup every single game. James had a tremendous performance in his own right, but Durant was the man in game 1.
Behind Durant’s 36 points was a near triple-double from teammate Russell Westbrook. Russell finished game 1 with 27 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds. He started off the game shooting poorly (2-9), but it was a late technical from Shane Battier at the end of the 2nd quarter that really stirred up Westbrook and lit a fire under him for the 2nd half.
Surprisingly enough, NBA 6th man of the year James Harden was not a factor in this game, as he ended the night with just 5 points and 3 assists in 22 minutes of action. It was starter Thabo Sefolosha (9 points, 2 steals) who got the crunch-time minutes with his extremely effective perimeter defense on James and Wade. Harden will certainly bounce back, but it must be gratifying for the Thunder knowing they got a victory in these Finals without James playing at his best. Just imagine the results when he’s back to his old scoring self off the bench.
Overall, OKC has to be extremely happy with the way they played, especially in the 2nd half. The team only turned the ball over twice in the final 2 quarters. It’s just one game and there is still a lot of basketball left to be played, but how can you not like the Thunder’s chances after this game 1 comeback performance?
HEAT CAN’T CLOSE
This was a winnable game for the Heat. They dominated the first quarter with their barrage of threes (5-6) and had a solid lead at halftime (54-47).
They even got some quality offensive production from starter Shane Battier (17 points, 4 rebounds, 4 three-pointers). It seemed like everything was clicking for Miami and that a game 1 win on the road was all but certain.
So why couldn’t they close this one out?
I won’t be blaming Lebron James for this one. He had an MVP-type performance with 30 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. He didn’t necessarily shoot the ball that well (11-24, key misses in the 4th), but without his offense on this night, the final result would have been a lot more severe for the Heat.
If anyone deserves criticism for this blown win, it’s Dwayne Wade. He finished with 19 points, but it took him 19 shots to get it. 13 of those shots were outside the paint.
Lebron James can’t do this on his own. This Heat team will go as far as James AND Wade take them. I don’t know if he’s injured or it was just a bad night at the office, but Miami can’t afford to have Wade (or James for that matter) have poor outings. The semi-injured Chris Bosh (10 points, 5 rebounds) can’t be relied on to handle a good portion of the scoring load. That job falls on the shoulders of James and Wade.
The Thunder aren’t the Knicks. They aren’t the Pacers. They certainly aren’t the ageless Celtics. This is a team that can match them toe-to-toe in virtually every aspect of the game. If the Heat can’t keep up, then OKC will walk away with this championship.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”They just made more plays than us. They got a couple offensive rebounds that kind of hurt us. Got a couple of open shots and from that point we were kind of playing from behind.” – Heat guard Dwayne Wade
”Well, those guys, they came out on fire. They were passing the ball well, knocking down shots. We just wanted to continue to keep playing. It’s a long game, and every time our coach was just saying play harder, play harder, and that’s what we did.” – OKC Thunder forward Kevin Durant
TWEETS OF THE GAME
Again I was treated like sh!t by the Thunder arena staff…dam..I hope da Heat beat da dog sh!t out em!!
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) June 13, 2012
Durant drafted in 07. Westbrook in 08. Harden in 09. That’s a serious “Big Three” done the right way. (Ibaka in 08 too) #Thunder
— KFC (@KFCBarstool) June 13, 2012
- “Everybody keeps talking about how loud it is. It’s regular. We’ve been in a lot of other arenas and it’s about the same. Once it gets really loud, it’s all about the same.” – Heat forward Chris Bosh on the OKC Thunder fans (Clearly, Bosh doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Those fans were on their feet for a majority of the game. There isn’t a better fan base in the NBA than OKC as far as I’m concerned.
– This picture just about sums up game 1 for Miami…..
Game 2: Thursday June 14th, 9:00 pm ET, ABC
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports