The Finals Are Back At Square One; Miami And OKC Combine For A Crazy Finish

06.15.12 4 years ago
2012 NBA Finals

2012 NBA Finals (design. Ryan Hurst)

This series is tied, 1-1, and after Game 2, we have no complaints for how entertaining it’s been. Until later in this post we’ll abstain about a no-call on KD with the game on the line. Until then, it’s time to realize this thing is far from being swept away like the wind across the midwest prairie. The Heat just made difficult plays late to hold on, 100-96. LeBron James got a fading jumper off glass over Oklahoma City’s best defender (Thabo) that he couldn’t hit if you made him “prove it” in HORSE. Dwyane Wade (24 points) had a tough drive before a feed to Chris Bosh for a dunk. After a very un-veteran-like turnover in the open court by Wade led to a three by Kevin Durant to cut it to two, James hit two free throws — 12 of 12 on the night — to ice this thing as it heads back to the heat of Miami. … Durant (32 points) said Chesapeake Energy Arena sounded like Allen Fieldhouse in Game 1. In Game 2, it sounded like a JV game when Miami jumped out to an 18-2 lead in the first quarter. Miami was taking the temperature of the OKC D by going at the rim on nearly every possession, not waiting for an opportunity. James was also showing us the dividends from working with Hakeem Olajuwon over last summer, facing up and dropping a soft hook on Thabo Sefolosha. Then he just went back to driving, again, and again. We can have a legitimate conversation about his history of “clutch,” but who can argue with that kind of force driving to the hoop? … The Thunder were piss-poor through one after shooting just 5-of-20, but they had a small bit of momentum to close it out when Serge Ibaka (7 points, 4 boards, 5 blocks) stopped an enormous dunk attempt by LeBron with three seconds to go. The dunk would have been a “Sportscenter” Top 10 pick easily, but this was another small nugget of hope that the Thunder fans were collecting, hoping it’d turn into a brick of gold. (Preach from the pulpit of JVG: You can’t just take Mutumbo’s finger-wag like that, Ibaka…) … More off the JVG greatest hits album: “There’s going to be a huge wet spot” when Bosh fell in the key, and the Heat trust Norris Cole‘s “pureness of spirit.” WTF? … Ibaka had his fingers on most everything, and he just missed about three more when LeBron (32 points, 8 boards) would get to his level on the paint. And yet still, thanks to big offensive boards by Bosh (who had 10 rebounds in the first half) that became a handful of second-chance buckets, Miami’s lead was still 12 points at halftime. We could feel the momentum of Oklahoma City, but it barely registered on the scoreboard. One thing that seemed incongruous was the low assist mark in the first 24 minutes (eight assists) compared with how well they were moving the ball with extra passes in the second quarter. Nick Collison and Sefolosha (3 points, 5 boards) each had moved the ball into wide-open shooting pockets for buckets. They weren’t hitting on all those, though (9-of-26 on threes for the night). Miami’s role player extraordinaire Shane Battier (17 points) was, though. He started 4-of-5 from deep and they weren’t all by putting in roots in the corner. He was filling available space to keep the OKC defense in a state of wondering, “who to guard?” … Another asymmetrical thing we saw: Bosh’s hands. He could grab an offensive board over Collison one on possession in the fourth, then mishandle several feeds off a pick and roll immediately after. A couple were just feet from the hoop, costing them at least four points. Sound ticky-tack? Not in this series. He was overall superb, though, with 16 points and 15 boards. … Read on to hear about a nuts two-minute stretch in the fourth quarter.

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Durant and KD each had two fouls in the first quarter, then ‘Bron stuck a fourth on KD late in the third quarter. Missing that much time collectively between the two most important stars on the team effectively reined in OKC’s tempo. OKC had ZERO fast-break points through three quarters, after 24 in Game 1. Durant stayed in the game, though, which nearly brought OKC all the way back. KD threw down on Battier to get it to eight down in the fourth, then did a pro move and put his hands down to the bench to tell them, “don’t freak out yet.” That led to this incredible stretch. Starting with six minutes to go in the fourth both team’s big guns — plus Battier because, hey why the hell not? — had a tear that got better before you could type the previous play. Russell Westbrook (27 points) was a Heat-seeking missile looking for contact off an outlet from KD when he got a huge and-1 on James that briefly got the place jumping before Wade’s jumper. Then James Harden (21 points) — OKC’s savior in the first half — went at the front line for an acrobatic bucket, driving right past Mario Chalmers (3 points) like he was stuck, exactly like Miami had been sprinting toward the hoop in the first half. It was relentless. And that was before Battier dropped a bank three from 25 feet. Seriously? Shane, this is Gary Williams calling, you’re not supposed to have nights like this unless it’s against us Terps, you know? … Let’s see, how to bring up the end of this one. KD got fouled, period. James put a forearm into his chest and then followed it down his leg. Should have led to free throws and a tie, not a four-point game in favor of Miami. … We think it’s time that the praise for Oklahoma City’s never-die mentality that leads to these comebacks should be flipped until it’s seen as just a slow-starting team. That’s not to discount anything about how they rally but we shouldn’t give them a pass early. Thursday was a much bigger case than Game 1, when the Heat got up 10 early instead of 16, but when it happens at home, in the Finals, what could possibly be the reason? Are Scott Brooks‘ pre-game pep talks the world’s biggest wet blankets? … And the NBA will have its Social Media Awards soon. Is there any way Tony Allen does not win? … We’re out like an OKC sweep.

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