There are two reasons I’ve refrained from any real public discussion on the NBA Finals this year. The first being a lesson which proves itself truer and truer each postseason – nothing’s over until one team has four wins. And two, everyone’s a damn conspiracy theorist these days. Game 3 between the Heat and Thunder was a contest of runs, careless play with the ball at moments and uncharacteristic free throw shooting on both sides. At the end, Miami edged out a 91-85 victory upping the ante on Tuesday’s Game 4; a game which will speak volumes on the tone for the remainder of the series.
— Surely a few calls should have gone OKC’s direction, but the Thunder didn’t do themselves any favors with some flat out awful possessions in the fourth quarter either. As a team who has made other squads pay all year at the free throw line, their 15-24 performance from the charity stripe on Sunday was a black eye.
— I don’t like to give Sam too much credit, but he has been right on two things. Mario Chalmers – through 12 quarters – is playing about as effectively as I did when I purposely gave myself the flu. And two, Thabo Sefolosha, has been a defensive pest all series including a crucial steal on Dwyane Wade – who had 25-7-7 – in the fourth which resulted in a dunk. Win, lose or draw, Thabo’s showing the country why he’s one of the best on-ball defenders on Earth.
— Miami’s outside shooting was down right awful. Like Lil B on “Grove St. Party” awful. That said, the Thunder continue to have no long term answer for the Heat’s commitment to attacking the basket since going jump shot crazy in the second half of Game 1. If you’re pulling for OKC, it’s the refs bailing them out. And somewhere right in the middle lies what really happened.
— The third quarter – depending if the series pans out in Miami’s favor – could go down as the most important of the series. OKC started off on fire, cutting off the paint on defense and before anyone noticed were up by 10. Kevin Durant picked up his fourth foul. Then Scotty Brooks sat Russell Westbrook. Then the bottom dropped out and the Heat closed the quarter on a 16-7 run. Oklahoma City never truly recovered.
— James Harden’s night? On 2-10 shooting, Trina’s man had 9 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists and one Metta World Peace subtweet. In other words, The Bearded One hasn’t looked like himself outside of the first two quarters of Game 2.
— Kevin Durant is quickly approaching that “oh-shit-he-actually-missed?” type respect. And that’s if he isn’t already there. Ray Allen is still the king of that department though.
— With 29 points and 14 rebounds, LeBron continues an already impressive playoff run. Yes, I’m aware he still needs two more wins, but don’t shoot the messenger.
— Speaking of LeBron and KD, that pesky fourth quarter came around just how we thought it would. Unlike the first two contests, however, Durant never truly got in rhythm totaling four points in the final period. Credit some of that to Bron’s defense (and the help defense whenever KD got to the basket) and also credit that to never truly establishing a feel for the game following an extended break in the third quarter. He even missed two free throws in the fourth! That’s so not clutch (que sarcasm here).
— There were around six sightings of Birdman on the sidelines which means those who participated in the “Birdman Watch” drinking game should have been nice and toasty by game’s end. Yes, we’re doing it for Game 4 as well.
— Shout out to everyone who participated in last night’s open thread. Let’s do it all over again Tuesday.