Maybe someone forgot to tell Miami this was the NBA Finals? Maybe they’re still tired from going seven games against Boston? Maybe they just don’t have the talent at all five positions to compete?
Whichever the reason, the Heat looked lackluster and unmotivated in Tuesday night's Game 1, in particular as the game rolled into the 4th quarter. This was about the same time Kevin Durant decided to show LeBron James how to spell the word clutch.
In the Heat’s defense, they started off the game strong and actually lead after the first quarter 29-22 while still maintaining a 7-point lead at half time. Throughout most of the first half Miami had been shooting over 65 percent from the field and over 70 percent from 3-piont range. The Heat were shooting so good, they should have had a 15-point lead. They relied heavily on their perimeter jump shooting and the point production of players outside their big three.
Although it’s always good to get all the players involved early, this is only a good formula if your critical players are capable of taking over later. Shane Battier went for 17 points on 4-6 shooting from downtown and Mario Chalmers tossed in another 12 points. If Miami can’t win with these two guys combining for 29 points when they normally combine for five points, this might be a very very quick series.
The Thunder looked strong. Sure, they were down most of the first half, but they still appeared to turn it on with ease when it was necessary. Oklahoma was composed against Miami just as they were composed in dismantling San Antonio. OKC appears to have the knowledge that they are the superior team and that they have the superior clutch shooters.
Miami can’t maintain OKC's intensity over four quarters and when the last 10 minutes of the game rolled around, Miami was left with sloppy passes being picked off by Russell Westbrook and lazy jump shots rattling out.
LeBron still got his 30 points and Wade dropped in 19, but they were mostly points scored in the first three quarters. Down the stretch LeBron appeared allergic to driving to the rim and Wade was all too happy to jack-up an off balance 3-pointers. The Heat’s offense in the 4th quarter relied on magical 1-on-1 moves, while the Thunder distributed the ball well and simply knocked down the open shots.
The fourth quarter belonged to Kevin Durant. Durant went off for 36 points on 12-20 shooting and owned the entire sluggish Miami defense in the last 10 minutes of the game. If game one is any example of what we can expect in the rest of this series, South Beach is going to be a very cold place this off-season.
They better start getting ring sizes for Oklahoma City, who are poised to hoist their first ever NBA banner in their new city.
Photo Credit: AP