The NBA finals shift to South Beach tonight. Miami managed to split the series in Oklahoma, and will be looking to take a step closer to the championship tonight.
Despite starting the game on a 18-2 run, Miami managed to win by only 4 points, as Oklahoma rallied back and made a game out of it. Game 2 eventually came down to the last shot, on which, according to many, Durant got fouled by James. The foul wasn’t called and Miami won the game.
Keys to the game
Probably the single most important factor of game 2 was the aggression of LeBron James on offense, which in turn got Durant into early foul trouble. Due to foul trouble, Durant’s minutes were cut down to 38, and Miami were able to hold off the Thunder.
Game 2 was really a team victory, in which everyone stepped up. Battier remained hot, drilling threes left right and centre, and shot 5-7 from three-point land. Bosh was back in the starting lineup, playing 40 minutes, going for 16 points and an absolutely huge 15 rebounds. Wade finally got it going early, scoring 24 points and dishing out 5 assists. James silenced his critics, hitting a clutch shot off the glass, and knocking down 2 free throws in crunch time.
LeBron needed more help from Wade and Bosh and he definitely got it on the night. The big 3 were clicking the whole evening, and one play down the stretch summed up the night. Wade was dribbling the ball, as James came over to the three-point line and set a perfect screen. Having already gathered momentum, Wade flashed by Harden into the paint, and avoided Ibaka’s attempt to block the shot by delivering a perfect bounce pass to Bosh under the basket. Bosh dunked the ball hard, and put Miami in front by 7 with 53 seconds left. All of the big 3 played a big part, and managed to complement and feed of each other.
Obviously Miami reached the goal in Oklahoma – they split the first two games. Even so, being at home will not make things easy. With the finals 2-3-2 format, Miami will now play 3 in a row at home. As competitive as this series is, home court isn’t as important of a factor. Theoretically, Miami could close out the series at home, by winning 3 straight, but that is highly unlikely. Kevin Durant has proven throughout the playoffs that he is the most clutch player in the league, and with his qualities, there is no way OKC will drop 3 games in a row – they are too good. At the same time, Miami cannot afford to lose 2 games at home, and will need to get at least 2 wins heading back to Oklahoma City.
Miami have to make sure they come out ready to play from the very start in game 3. Coming off a loss, OKC will be the desperate team, and Miami will have to match their intensity from the tip off. Furthermore, the Thunder have started the first 2 games pretty slow, and will most likely be looking to change that.
Rusell Westbrook has been the target of a lot of criticism in this series, despite putting up monster numbers. He shot more shots than Kevin Durant in both games, and his shot selection was poor in game 2. He rarely had any rhythm when he shot the ball, and has to play smarter.
After not blocking a single shot in game 1, Ibaka made his presence felt in game 2, coming up with 5 blocks. Miami have to keep his paint presence in mind, and try to force him out of the paint.
Finally, the big 3 will have to continue producing. Miami simply cannot win this series without Dwyane Wade being Dwyane Wade, and without Bosh being as solid as he was in game 2. Battier has also played amazingly well so far, and his contributions are always a bonus. We know LeBron is going to get his number and put up MVP performances, but Miami will have to beat the Thunder as a team.