Heat Start Hot Once Again; the Thunder not so Much
It what really became a reoccurring theme during these Finals, the Heat started fast and the Thunder did not. From the 7:30 mark of the first quarter (Battier 25 ft shot) until the 1:50 mark (Miller 25 ft shot), the Heat connected on an impressive nine straight shots. The hot shooting enabled Miami to build a lead as big as nine during the opening quarter. During that same timeframe, the Thunder missed a total of seven shots. After only shooting 37.5% in the first quarter, and allowing the Heat to connect on close to 58%, the Thunder had to feel extremely fortunate to only be trailing by five (31-26) heading into the second quarter.
Nowhere to Run
After averaging around 16 fast break points per game during the postseason, the Thunder struggled mightily to generate any easy baskets during the first half of play on Thursday. Due in large part to Miami’s efficient shooting in the first half (55%), OKC was limited to just 2 fast break points. After generating 24 fast break points in Game 1, the Thunder were limited the remainder of the series in this important aspect of their game. Their only saving grace during the first half was their ability to get to their charity stripe. Who knows how much they would’ve trailed by if they hadn’t connected on 17 out of 18 attempts. You really have to give credit to Miami’s perimeter shooters (Battier, Chalmers, Norris, Miller) for doing such a fantastic job of knocking down the three point shot all series long. Their terrific shooting really negated the Thunder’s ability to get out and run.
Epic 3rd Quarter Seals the Deal for Miami
After Serge Ibaka cut Miami’s lead to five early in the 3rd quarter (59-54-11:11), the Heat absolutely exploded outscoring the Thunder 36-17 the rest of the quarter. Miami would connect on five three pointers during the quarter, and for all intents and purposes, put the game away. The Thunder’s perimeter defense really struggled to match up with Miami’s shooters all series long. The Heat would knock down an incredible 14 three point shots (tied Finals record), thanks in large part to Mike Miller’s historical shooting effort. Miller was in a rare shooting zone on Thursday night, knocking down 7 out of 8 three point attempts. At the end of the day, the Thunder simply couldn’t overcome the three point shooting disparity that Miami built pretty much the entire series.
The King Comes Up Big Once Again….Finally Delivers!
Like he has done so many times this postseason, Lebron James was huge in a closeout game. Entering tonight, James was averaging 44.3 minutes per game, 29.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 5.3 assists, all while shooting 46.3% from the field in close out games versus the Knicks, Pacers, and Celtics. He was sensational once again tonight, producing a triple double versus OKC (26 pts, 11 rebs, 13 assts). From a statistical standpoint, James performance during these playoffs were truly remarkable. He cemented his status as the greatest player in the world. Don’t be surprised if James reels off a couple more titles in the coming years.
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