Father’s day in Miami; THE HEAT played father figure against the Thunder, showing veteran poise and execution for their home crowd as the HEAT roll 91-85 for a 2-1 edge in the NBA Finals.
For the HEAT, the equation doesn’t change. HEAT basketball is 48 minutes with 8-10 moving parts that need to be contained at all times, with 4 of them being absolutely critical. OKC fans no doubt are crushed, especially given the fact that this NBA Finals series has come down to this: Against the HEAT it is never the fear of the unknown. It’s the fear of the known.
The known commodity has prevailed so far in this series, and has shown its face early and often: LeBron James getting to the paint. A HEAT defense remaining focused, diligent and unrelenting, during close games. Sharp ball rotation, with Shane Battier et-al for three when open. The other two pieces of the Big 3 playing solid enough on all sides of the ball. For OKC, it’s watching comic-book superhero Captain Obvious sitting courtside waving a White Hot HEAT towel screaming “I told You so!!.” Two out of three times, there has been no answer from the Western Conference team dubbed the best answer to the Miami HEAT’s quest for a first title in the LeBron James era.
Keys to the game for the HEAT:
1. Big 4: It was the Big 3, but now welcome Shane Battier to the club. 73 points, 35 boards from Miami’s conglomerate powerhouse. Consistency across the board for the HEAT from their stars, with 21-25 free-throw shooting and everyone doing their part to seal a critical game 3 win at home. LeBron James played both general and soldier, rallying the squad and leading by example, scoring as needed with a 29 point-14 rebound night by himself. Wade applied the pressure, Battier converted perfect, perfect and perfect from the field, from 3, and from the stripe. In total, a spectacular effort by the group.
2. HEAT Defense: Effective in shutting down an irresponsible, self-imploding OKC team that showed more needs for training wheels than solo road-bike for a must win game 3. The vice grip from Miami forced 43% shooting from the Thunder and a combined 9 turnovers from OKC’s big 3 of Durant, Westbrook and Harden. Their tendencies to err as a team to the side of immature cancelled out any great plays by Durant, who’s 25 points on 11-19 shooting was the only sparkle for the Thunder all night.
In the end, a veteran HEAT squad old-schooled a younger, immature Thunder team with a lesson in NBA Finals execution. Scoreboard be damned, the see-saw effort was misleading and the HEAT ultimately drove their Ferrari at 200 MPH through the hairpin turns to win the game by a nose, owning complete control of game 3 and stealing home court advantage. With the HEAT now leading 2-1, they face two more at home and eyes down the barrel of completing a 3-0 run to seal the deal in South Beach. Almost as if the conclusion was written before it ever happened. Was it? Regardless, OKC needs some answers to their internal issues rapidly, or their 2012 chapter will end Thursday.