Game 1 of the NBA Finals was the tale of two halves but the Oklahoma City Thunder prevailed 105-94 behind Kevin Durant’s stellar 17 point 4th quarter and overall game.
Durant was unfazed by the pressure of his first Finals appearance dropping 36 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists to put a choke hold on a game that the Miami Heat had hoped to steal away. His running mate, Russell Westbrook, nearly triple doubled with 27 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds. All of that production from Westbrook with just 2 turnovers.
LeBron James looked like a man on an island with his 30 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. He again was assigned and then reassigned to some ridiculous task on defense switching from Perkins, to Durant to Westbrook. Some will question his fourth quarter performance but the fault does not lie with James. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh need to be effective for the Heat to be more than just competitive in this series going forward.
Wade always seems to put together a nice game when looking at his stats and he did that again in Game 1 with 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Unfortunately, Wade shot just 7-19 and was inexplicably matched up with Durant on defense as a result of Coach Spolestra’s “scheming”.
I get the sense that Wade might be “hurting” again or that a report will come out stating that he is. Maybe he needs to get his knee drained again like he did in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Whatever the case, Miami needs more from their superstar.
Chris Bosh came off the bench to shoot just 4-11 on his way to 10 points and 5 rebounds in 33 minutes. Bosh is game to game with his commitment to rebounding but 5 in 33 minutes for an All-Star caliber power forward in the Finals just isn’t good enough. He is staying far away from the rim on offense and has turned into a jump shooter hoisting 3′s from all angles.
Bosh needs to mix things up offensively. His ability to spread the floor with his shooting allows LeBron and Wade clear paths to drive with a reliable safety option in himself if they get into trouble. But he is overdoing it from the outside and should be featured on post-ups especially if James or Wade are resting. I suspect his abdominal injury has him shying away from contact in the post just a bit as well.
What can be taken away from Game 1′s results is that Oklahoma City continues to be resilient. They sustained Miami’s barrage of 3′s in the first half and despite trailing by as many 13 they were never shaken.
What can also be taken away is the importance of the role players. Shane Battier (17 points) and Mario Chalmers (12 points & 6 assists) were great for the Heat in the first half but invisible in the second. While Nick Collison (8 points & 10 rebounds) and Thabo Sefolosha (9 points & great defense) really helped the Thunder down the stretch.
The Thunder outscored the Heat 56-40 in the paint and 24-8 in fast break points. Neither stat is something the Heat are used to having happen.
LeBron and Wade rely on the fact that they have the athletic advantage in most games against their opponents but Durant and Westbrook are just as athletic. More importantly they are not intimidated by the Heat or the moment.
Adjustments will have to be made by Miami or Game 2′s results will be largely the same. Oddly enough the Thunder only got 5 points from super-sub James Harden. That’s pretty scary if your Miami.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com