Each time Miami has lost during this postseason, it has lost for the same reasons. Poor composure late in games and a lack of consistency in the backcourt have been the usual problems.
The good thing about their inconsistency, is that they’re inconsistent with playing poorly, too. They repeatedly make mistakes, but not in back-to-back games. They made the fatal mistakes in Game 1 versus the Thunder, so by default, Miami would play better in Game 2.
Miami definitely played better this time around. Shooting-wise, Dwyane Wade shot 10-20, for 24 points. Whether it was pull-up jumpers or finding his way into the middle, Wade was taking better shots than Game 1, where he shot 7-19 and looked pretty bad. When Wade shoots at or near 50% from the floor, it’s awful hard to beat Miami. That itself was a big factor in the Heat’s victory.
Chris Bosh rebounded, figuratively and literally from a poor Game 1 performance, as he finished Thursday night with 16 points and 15 rebounds, 7 of them being offensive boards.
There were two consistent performers from Game 1. LeBron James, who scored through double teams and conducted the offense throughout the whole game, was dominant. Shane Battier hit 5 threes. And no, we shouldn’t be surprised at this. When you focus all 5 of your defenders on only 3 Heat players, somebody’s going to be wide open. When shooters are wide open, they make shots. Battier did that. He also played his annoyingly good defense on Durant again.
Oklahoma City also played differently from its Game 1 dominance, but it was different in a negative way. While the Heat looked organized and efficient on offense, there were times when the Thunder made us wonder what in the world they were thinking. Beginning at tip-off, OKC looked disoriented. The Heat’s defense is one of the best in the league, but they can’t be the entire reason the Thunder were so troubled on offense for much of the game. In the first half, Russell Westbrook was having one of those games where he doesn’t do anything right. He was throwing errant passes, taking and missing bad shots. It seemed he and Wade traded each other’s performances from Game 1. He was just having so much trouble.
Kevin Durant also had a bad start, partially from foul trouble and partially from just missing shots. He wasn’t the only one fouling, though. The entire Thunder team played more physical than I’ve seen in recent memory. It was too physical. They fouled Miami players with authority on nearly every possession. If the NBA was like the NHL and had a penalty box for ridiculously physical play, Miami would have been on the Power Play for the entire game. The rough Thunder defense didn’t statistically affect the Heat anyway, as they still put up 55 points in the first half.
There were two bright spots for Oklahoma City, while everyone else stunk. James Harden scored 40% of his team’s first half points, and Serge Ibaka played basketball.
Like every game, though, the Thunder’s play picked up as the contest progressed. They started to show some life in the 3rd quarter, outscoring Miami by 1.
There wasn’t a “wired” coach cam for Scott Brooks during this time, like there usually is- but I’d say he still had his usual pep talk for Durant late in the 3rd. Why do I say this? The Durantula scored his usual 16 fourth quarter points. And like what usually happens in concurrence with Durant’s scoring, the Thunder played their way back into the game. With 4 minutes left in the game, a reenergized Ibaka subbed in for Collison, and his defensive efforts combined with Durant’s offense to bring the deficit to 2, with half a minute left. Unfortunately, this late game “Serge” by the Thunder wasn’t enough to win, as LeBron James put the game away with 2 free throws.
The series is now even. Each team has played one great game and one bad game. With the series moving to Miami, it should be expected that the Heat are very receptive to their home crowd while the Thunder bounce back and play a more complete game. Don’t be surprised when Game 3 is a total dogfight from start to finish.
Since there’s no game tomorrow, maybe we should temporarily shift our attention to that guy who’s going to walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls. Is ABC bringing back Wide World of Sports or something? Maybe it’s good that we have such a distraction. As big as this Finals series is, even the fans need a couple days to recover from Games 1 and 2. That being said, Sunday night can’t come soon enough.