In game 2, HEAT fans only wanted one thing: A WIN. Tonight they got it, and then some.
Then-some meaning an explosive start out of the gates, to the tune of a 16-2 run that set the home team back far enough they wouldn’t see double digits until the two-minute mark in the first period, much less a lead the entire night.
Then-some meaning incredible play from Shane Battier, registering 17 points on 5-7 from long-range including a scorching-hot first quarter to set the tone early.
Finally, then-some was clutch redefined by LeBron James. Not hitting the final shot to win in regulation, but putting together a defensive stop on an equally en-fuego Kevin Durant, then following up with two critical free throws to remain a perfect 12-12, putting the game out of reach with only seconds left in the 4th quarter.
Miami prevailed in the end 100-96 following a heart-stopping 4th quarter. The HEAT had the afterburners engaged throughout, but through tough, home team play by the Thunder, managed to lose their double digit lead down to 2 points in the 4th quarter. Damage was delivered by OKC through an unbelievable clutch shooting performance by Kevin Durant, who finished with 32 points including a critical 4-10 from 3 point-land. James Harden finally looked like 6th man of the year with 21 points of his own, but had his efforts countered to negative result by Russell Westbrooks’ excessive 10-26 from the floor. So goes Oklahoma City basketball for this season, and so went a game 2 opportunity to force Miami against the ledge in the NBA Finals.
Key points for the HEAT:
1. Shane Battier-another unbelievable night on all sides, 15 points from 3 with 17 total and tight defense throughout. Although it is his first NBA Finals, he played with the hunger that it might be his only trip. He made the Thunder feel like there might be a 4th person they need to pay attention to during the series, which their coaching staff will be sure to address while planning Sunday’s game 3. Battier’s heart and desire during the post season has been one of the few consistent pieces for the HEAT as of late, logging the minutes and taking the hits as needed with a whatever-it-takes attitude.
2. James/Wade/Bosh-The Big (HUGE) 3 returned as starters for the first time since round two of the playoffs, posting a collective 72 points, 29 rebound performance that kept the Thunder guessing all night. Highlight reels on all sides of the ball, LeBron leading the scoring but only being matched on efficiency by Wade, who started hitting early and setting the benchmark for intensity all night.
With the final whistle, it was curtains on the Thunder’s hopes to take a 2-0 lead, and a sigh of relief for HEAT Nation (and HEAT Team). Perhaps the last game being played on OKC’s home court as they travel to Miami for 3 away games in a row. Historically, it’s virtually impossible to win these three consecutively since the beginning of the 2-3-2 game format, but at this rate anything is possible. And why not, they are one of the only teams to pull off the feat when they captured the title in 2006. Back to Miami for a fresh start and a 3 at-home, 2-away (TBD) five-game series for the NBA title.