The Heat Start Game 2 in Attack Mode
Although the Heat jumped out to an early lead in Game 1, they were much more assertive on both ends of the court to start Game 2. Much of their early game offensive success was attributed toward not settling for outside jumpers. Miami’s 44 jump shots in Game 1 was their highest total of the 2012 postseason (consequently, their 18 free throw attempts were their lowest). Even though Miami built an early lead in the first quarter of Game 1, it was a little bit misleading. Six of their made attempts came from shots that were from 20 feet or beyond; not exactly high percentage shots. Obviously, the Heat’s top priority entering Game 2 was to attack the paint area. In the opening quarter alone, Miami connected on seven shots from 8 feet or closer (compared to only two for the Oklahoma City). James, Wade, and Bosh were responsible for all of those close range shots during the opening quarter.
More Bosh Means Good Things for the Heat
No offense to Udonis Haslem, but Chris Bosh needed to be back in the starting lineup. Bosh, along with James, is one of the Heat’s only effective players down on the block. This is important for a couple of reasons. Number one, the Heat usually can dictate tempo when they consistently feed the ball into the post. It’s no secret that the Thunder want to get out in the open court and convert on easy baskets. They ranked 5th in the league in fast break points (16.3) during the regular, and outscored the Heat 24-4 in that category in Game 1. However, by converting on easy baskets within the paint area (which is usually a result of feeding the post), the Heat were able to shutdown the Thunder to the tune of zero fast break points in the first half. We knew that Bosh would have to log heavy minutes during this series, and he appears well onto his way (40 minutes played tonight). Bosh finished the game with 16 points and 15 rebounds (including 8 offensive).
Durant’s Foul Trouble Doesn’t Affect his Production
For only the fourth time all season (including postseason), Durant was whistled for five fouls in a game. Durant would pick up his 5th foul at the 10:31 mark of the 4th quarter. You have to give head coach Scott Brooks a lot of credit for keeping Durant on the floor after picking up his 5th foul (most coaches would’ve pulled their star player in that scenario). Durant responded by scoring 16 points after picking up that 5th foul early in the 4th quarter. His ability to produce offensively under those circumstances shows how special of an offensive talent he truly is. Durant continued to remain aggressive, and enabled the Thunder to keep the pressure on Miami. The Thunder star has now totaled 31 fourth quarter points in the opening games of the Finals. He is unquestionably the greatest offensive threat in the league right now.
Defensive Adjustments on Westbrook Make No Difference
The most glaring weakness for the Heat after their Game 1 defeat was their inability to contain Westbrook from getting into the paint area. You have to give credit to Spoelstra and his coaching staff for coming up with an effective game plan in Game 2. Listen, you aren’t going to consistently keep Westbrook from getting near the rim, you’re just not. However, the Heat will be content with Westbrook shooting the ball from the perimeter. Miami made an effort to sag off of Westbrook for most of the game, which translated into a minimal amount of layups for Westbrook. The Heat also made an effort to double Westbrook up high (especially when Durant was out of the game), which essentially made him give up the ball. Even with the adjustments, Westbrook was still a game changer out on the floor (27 pts 8 rebs 7 ast). The more I watch this series, the more I’m convinced that he’s the most important player for either team (and that’s saying a lot with the likes of Durant and James).
Is Battier the Missing Piece to the Puzzle?
Shane Battier is proving to be a difference maker during these finals (and most of the playoffs for the matter). Battier continued his stellar shooting from beyond the arc tonight, connecting on five three point shots (17 points total). In his last six games, Battier has connected on 17 out of his 30 three point attempts. Scott Brooks and the Thunder are going to have to pay a little bit more attention to Battier during transition opportunities. It’s obvious that Battier is running to a spot beyond the arc (and staying there) during Miami’s fast breaks. The Thunder will need to sure up their perimeter defense as this series goes along. The Heat are shooting over 42% from beyond the arc during the first two games of the series.
Check Sunday evening for our continuing post game analysis of the NBA Finals
Copyright © sports-glutton.com, 2010-2012. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from sports-glutton.com is strictly prohibited.