Despite missing the final few minutes of the game because of severe cramping in his legs, Heat forward Lebron James still managed to finish with a near triple-double of 26 points, 9 rebounds and 12 assists as he helped lead Miami to a 104-98 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night.
The Miami Heat now have a 3-1 series lead and are just one win away from the NBA Championship.
THUNDER ON LIFE SUPPORT
Game 4 was a must-win situation for the Oklahoma City Thunder. No team in NBA Finals history has ever come back from being down 3 games to 1.
Unfortunately for all you Thunder fans out there, the team just came up a little short in the end (which seems to be the common theme for all of their Finals losses up to this point).
Russell Westbrook had a monster game finishing with 43 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists on 20 for 32 shooting. He ate up the Miami defense on many occasions with his cuts to the basket and his athletic lay-ups.
His numbers were good and all, but Westbrook’s game 4 performance will be remembered for one careless and somewhat stupid play.
With 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Thunder down by three, the Miami Heat regained possession of the ball after a jump ball was called between James Harden and Udonis Haslem. Unaware that the shot clock was at 5 seconds and wasn’t going to reset to 24 if the Heat had gotten the ball, Russell then proceeded to foul Mario Chalmers which sent him to the line to seal the victory.
Even though he had an amazing game on the offensive end, there is just no excuse for how boneheaded a decision that was. He should have been aware of the time on the shot clock and that if the Thunder made a defensive stop, they still could have tied the game with a three.
Kevin Durant was able to stay on the court and avoid foul trouble for what seems like the first time this series. He played 46 minutes and scored 28 points on 9 for 19 shooting. His Thunder teammate James Harden grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, but only shot 25% from the field on route to just 8 points. He has definitely been the ghost of the Thunders Big Three this series.
If Oklahoma City has anything going for them right now, it’s that they have absolutely nothing to lose at this point. If they can somehow catch Miami off guard and pull out a game 5 victory, then they will have games 6 and 7 on their home court which would be huge.
It’s never been done before, but I wouldn’t count out the Thunder just yet.
SUPER MARIO CHALMERS
For the most part, Heat forward Shane Battier has been the unsung hero for Miami in these Finals with his three-point shooting barrage.
In game 4, Mario Chalmers took over that role for the Heat. In 33 minutes of action, Chalmers finished with 25 points, 2 steals and 3 three-pointers. He also made a key layup late in the game and nailed 2 clutch free throws in the final seconds. He scored 15 of the Heats 25 points in the fourth quarter while James nursed his cramped legs.
James will more than likely be able to compete in game 5 this Thursday night. The injury looked a lot worse than it actually was.
Ignoring that “injury” for a moment, Lebron James was once again spectacular for the Heat. With just one more rebound, Lebron could have joined the likes of Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlin and Bob Cousy as the only players in NBA history to have more than one triple-double in the NBA Finals over the course of their career.
James is averaging 29.3 points in this series. Through four games in last year’s Finals, he was averaging just 17.3 points. You can tell in his numbers alone how badly he wants this ring.
Dwayne Wade came up big for Miami in game 4, finishing with a solid stat line of 25 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots.
With this Heat victory, we all now face the sudden reality of a soon-to-be Miami Heat championship. No team has blown a series lead this big. Lebron James and the Heat certainly aren’t playing like a team that would lose 3 straight games and waste this championship away.
The Thunder can make it interesting, but perhaps as early as Thursday night, the “King” of the NBA….will finally get to sit on his throne.
QUOTES OF THE GAME
”Obviously Lebron Jamesis one of the most dominant players in the game, and he explodes many nights scoring-wise. But we’ve always got his back, and certain nights like tonight when he wasn’t feeling his greatest, you have guys like Mario Chalmers step up, big plays, big moments. That’s what this team is built on, and that’s the reason we’re playing together.” – Heat guard Dwayne Wade
”Shots were falling. It really doesn’t mean nothing. We didn’t come out with the win.” – Thunder guard Russell Westbrook
TWEETS OF THE GAME
Willis Reed’s torn thigh muscle >>>>>> LeBron James’s leg cramp. Stop it.
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) June 20, 2012
“If LeBron James thinks playing with cramps for 1 game is hard, try playing with menstrual cramps every MONTH” – Chris Bosh
— Not Brian Scalabrine (@BScalabrine24) June 20, 2012
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
Lebron James (while still “hurt”) hits BIG three-pointer with less than 3 minutes left to put the Heat up by 3.
Game 5, Thursday June 21st, 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