Tonight the Miami Heat will have a chance to close out the NBA Finals, to avoid going back to Oklahoma City. Miami have a 3-1 lead going into game 5, and are one step away from the Larry O’Brien trophy.
Miami started game 4 poorly, as OKC managed to build up an 18-point lead in the first quarter. Miami struggled on both ends of the floor, while Rusell Westbrook was going off. It all changed when “Chuck” Norris Cole came on to replace Mario Chalmers, who was on a 2-18 stretch in the finals. Cole hit some big shots and Miami went on a 16-0 run to evaporate the deficit.
Just like all the other games in this series, it all came down to a couple of late possessions. The air was sucked out of the AAA when LeBron James hit the floor awkwardly, with around 3 minutes left in the game, and was slow getting up. He had to be helped off the court to get treatment in front of the Heat bench. As his legs were cramping up, you could see James screaming in agony. The game was getting away from Miami, as their leader wasn’t on the court to direct the team. When Miami were 2 points down, James checked back into the game. Despite limping and barely being able to move, James knocked down an absolutely huge 3-point shot to give Miami a 3 point lead. When James came on the court Miami went on a 7-0 run, before James body completely gave up on him and he had to check out permanently. Mario Chalmers made a few big plays down the stretch, and closed the game out.
Keys to the game
In the first half James was getting more attention, and he did a great job distributing the ball. He was able to suck in the defense, and pass out of double teams, which lead to a couple of big three-point shots. James has mostly been a scorer in this series, but he did an excellent job reading the defense, and dishing out 8 assists in just the first half. He has to continue carrying the load.
Rusell Westbrook had the best game of his career, yet managed to make the biggest mistake of the game. Westbrook scored 43 points, and was giving Miami a lot of trouble as he was in attack mode all night long. However, what most people will remember is his foul on Chalmers with 13.8 seconds left, when OKC didn’t have to foul.
OKC have made several sloppy plays down the stretch in this series, like the turnover on the inbounds pass in game 3, and they are learning their lesson the hard way right now. Even so, Westbrook had an unbelievable performance, and looked like he wanted to win more than anyone else. He has to continue playing well if OKC want to take the series back to Oklahoma City.
Dwyane Wade has been struggling in this series, and has had to sustain quite a bit of criticism. While some of his shots have been pretty bad, I think he has made a lot of game changing plays. Whether it’s a big shot, or a game changing play on defense, Wade has figured out ways to help Miami get over the hump, time and time again.
James Harden continued his struggles in game 4, going for 2-10. He has been missing a lot of shots he really should be making, and needs to step up. Because of recent foul trouble, Durant was taken off James for the majorty of the game, and Harden was on him in the 3rd quarter. James was able to take a lot of dribbles posting up against Harden, and was able to draw fouls and score in the paint. This was a serious mismatch, and OKC didn’t help Harden out enough.
Mario Chalmers came through in game 4. He was on a 2-18 run in the finals, and continued his struggles in the beginning of game 4. Norris Cole made a couple of big plays while Chalmers was resting, and once he came back he seemed determined to get out of his slump. He scored 25 points, and closed the game out for Miami, making several big plays and hitting his free-throws to make it a two possession game with only seconds remaining. He has to continue playing well.
OKC have to start moving the ball better on offense if they want to take the series back to Oklahoma City. Too much of their offense has relied on individual play, and therefore been inconsistant. Miami really don’t want to give OKC any hope, and will be looking to close the series out tonight.