Monday, June 18, 2012

Boomer's Slam Dunk: Update on the NBA Finals

Deja vu for the Miami Heat? The players, coaches, and general fan of the Miami Heat (NBA) franchise  woke up this morning with a familiar feeling. Just a year ago, the Miami Heat took a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals vs. the Dallas Mavericks, before losing the next three games and the NBA Championship to Dallas. Well, a year later after last nights Game 3 91-85 victory in Miami, the Heat are in the same position just two W's away from an NBA Championship. :-( Now, will history repeat itself starting Tuesday Night with Game 4 (9 PM ABC) in Miami, in what most will say is a "must-win" for the Oklahoma City Thunder, to even this series up at 2-2. Now, is it possible for the Thunder to run off 3 straight W's like their rivals did a year ago? Maybe? Can they? Probably. Will they? We're about to find out. Now lets take a look back at the first three games of this series, in which has been a very high rated/viewed NBA Finals to this point, and see what the Heat have to do to finish off the Thunder or what the Thunder have to do to get back into this series and crush the Heat's dreams once again #faillebron.

Game 1 Recap: OKC 105, Miami 94
In the opening game, the Thunder squad in front of their college-like atmosphere came out a step behind the Heat, who used the aid of hot shooting from Shane Battier (17 pts.) and Mario Chalmers (12 pts.) and took a seven point lead at halftime (54-47). However, it was a different story in the 2nd half. Sparked by bench players Nick Collison (8 pts. and 10 rebounds) and Derek Fisher (6 points), the Thunder stormed back and outscored the Heat 58-40 in the 2nd half to take Game 1, 105 to 94. Kevin Durant in his 1st NBA Finals game was simply amazing going for 17 of his 36 points in the 4th quarter, while his running mate Russell Westbrook almost got himself a triple-double with 27 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. The rest of the starting line-up for the Thunder scored 23 points and provided some tough defense on that end of the court. The Heat looked gassed in the 2nd half, while LeBron James continue his dominant playoff run with 30 points and 9 rebounds, didn't get the help he needed down the stretch, as D. Wade went for 19 points on 7 of 19 shooting. The Thunder outscored the Heat in fast break points (24-4) and played a deeper bench then Miami, who basically went just SIX deep. Adjustments for the Heat were in order heading into Game 2 of the 2012 NBA Finals.

Game 2 Recap: Miami 100, OKC 96
Just like in Game 1, the Miami Heat came out on fire and looked determine to runaway from the Thunder in this one. The Heat jumped out to an 18-2 lead, eventually building their largest lead to 17 points, before taking a 12-point halftime lead into the locker rooms (55-43). Unlike Game 1, the Thunder struggled all game to get a key stop and struggled to score (a lot of one-and-done possessions). The Heat received another stellar performance from "ring chaser" Shane Battier going for 17 points (6-8 FG, 5-7 from behind the arc). Chris Bosh started for the first time since returning from injury and provided 16 points and 15 rebounds. LBJ (32 pts.) and D. Wade (24 pts.) combined for 56 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. The Thunder didn't go quietly into the night, after a furious rally in the final minute, the Thunder had trimmed the Heat's lead to just two-points (98-96) with 15 seconds to go. However, a no call on a Kevin Durant jumper with 7 seconds to go, that he missed was rebounded by LeBron James and the Heat would hold onto win Game 2, 100-96. The Thunder's Big 3 (Durant 32, Westbrook 27, and Harden 21) contributed much of the scoring on the night, however no one else contributed much of anything else (16 points from the other 5 players that played). The Heat accomplished their goal of at least taking one of the first two games in OKC, as the series goes to Miami for the next three games (NBA Finals format 2-3-2).

Game 3 Recap: Miami 91, OKC 85
Something about this all, feels a little familiar. The Thunder played much better to start out this game, then the first two games of the series, only finding themselves down one at halftime (47-46). The Thunder came out of the locker room determine to find a way to steal this game in Miami and take back the home-court advantage. Jumping out to a 10-point lead (64-54) with 4:33 left in the 3rd quarter, things were looking pretty good for the OKC Thunder. However, with their star Kevin Durant on the bench with his 4th foul, the Heat were able to use a 15-3 run, to lead 69-67 at the end of three quarters. During that stretch, the Heat were able to convert a number of FT's, while the Thunder struggled to make theirs, having a couple 1 of 2 attempts at the charity stripe. In the end, the Heat were able to make more plays in the final couple of minutes in this game then the Thunder (who made a couple bonehead plays) to pull out a 91-85 Game 3 victory and take a 2-1 lead in the series. On the night, the Heat shot 31-35 from the free throw line, while the Thunder shot 15-24 from the line. The Thunder were unable to take advantage of the Heat's poor shooting on the night (38% from the field), and allowed 46 points in the paint. Leading the Heat, of course #faillebron (29 pts. and 14 rebounds) and his buddies D. Wade (25 pts. 7 rebounds and 7 assist) and Chris "long neck" Bosh with 10 and 11. The Thunder got 25 points from KD, but he has to avoid getting into early foul trouble, as for Russell Westbrook, he contributed 19 points. The x-factor at the beginning of the series like I predicted James Harden needs to play better, because so far to this point of the series, he has been a negative for the Thunder, scoring just 5 points in Game 1 and 9 points in Game 3 shooting 2-10 from the field and missing all 4 attempts from behind the arc. 

Final Thought
The Thunder now face a "must-win" scenario in Game 4 (Tuesday 9 PM ABC), as this series will be all but over, if the Heat go up 3-1.