Heat vs. Thunder Game 1: Highlights, Twitter Reaction and Analysis
The resilient Oklahoma City Thunder rolled off yet another second-half comeback, this time in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, that belies this team's stunning youth.
Oklahoma City dominated the second half and won 105-94—improving to 9-0 at home in the 2012 playoffs.
With a great team effort and fantastic play by Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, the Thunder took this game over after halftime. Westbrook and Durant were so dominant in the second that they outscored the Heat by themselves, 41-40.
The Heat got out to an early lead in this one and led by seven at the end of the first quarter, holding the lead through halftime through solid team play.
The Thunder made it a point to not let LeBron James kill them in the interior, leaving players like Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers room to operate. The pair combined for 23 first-half points, which included a combined 5-of-8 from beyond the arc.
OKC was also sloppy with the ball and had far too many turnovers, which led to a deficit despite shooting just over 55 percent from the field through two.
The Thunder quickly erased their deficit as they came out of the locker room with a much cleaner effort. They had just one turnover in the third, and took a 74-73 lead into the fourth. They also began to play off of James and Wade, daring them to take the jumpers.
Tweets of the Night
At the start of the fourth, ESPN's John Hollinger made a great point about the Heat's attack:
Miami 6-26 on 2s outside paint and have 13 FTAs. Heat gotta attack more or they're toast.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) June 12, 2012
Miami did a better job of getting to the rim in the first half, but much of this was due to its defense. The NBA broke down the first-half stats:
At the half, the Thunder have a higher FG% (55.6%), more PITP (26) & more fast break pts (13) but are losing. Why? 8 TO so far. #Finals— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) June 12, 2012
ESPN's Dick Vitale is more often found commenting on college basketball, but the legendary announcer found a way to put a college spin on this game:
Battier was a solid pick up by The Heat.Players like this make a big diff in TEAM CONCEPT.Plus he has that Coach K Duke winning mentality.— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) June 12, 2012
This fan brought up a great point about the third quarter:
Kevin Durant went 1-3 in the 3rd quarter and the Thunder take the lead? Strange...— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) June 12, 2012
The actual play in this highlight is not what is spotlight-worthy here (though it is a decently entertaining play). It is the interaction following the play that is worth noting.
Less than a half of a game into this best-of-seven series, these two teams have already found a little animosity. Things are going to get very heated before this series is all said and done.
Grades for Key Heat Players
LeBron James: B
James struggled with his jump shot in this contest, but did a nice job of getting to the rack and hitting the boards. He finished with 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting and added nine boards.
James is going to have to shoot better going forward, but he must focus on getting to the rim and breaking down OKC's defense. His Game 1 total of four assists is not going to cut it against this defense.
Dwyane Wade: B-
Like James, Wade struggled with his shot, and he did not have as much success getting to the rim. He finished with 19 points by going 7-of-19 from the field.
He was very active, however, and added eight assists and four rebounds.
Grades for Key Thunder Players
Kevin Durant: A
Durant was efficient and effective. He was quiet in the third when his team took the lead, but he was there in the fourth for numerous big baskets.
Durant ended with 36 points, eight boards and four assists. He was also an impressive 12-of-20 from the field.
Russell Westbrook: B+
Westbrook was fantastic. He struggled with his outside shooting, but he was making nice decisions and was getting to the rim at will. The Heat could not contain the point guard's quickness, and he exploited that.
Westbrook was just 10-of-24 from the field, but had 27 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
Deciding Factor: Turnovers
As the tweet above mentioned, the Thunder had eight first-half turnovers. It was killing them. It allowed the Heat to get out and do what they do best, which is run the open court.
The Thunder were a different team in the second half, and that was largely due to better care of the ball. They had just two turnovers in the second half.
MVP: Kevin Durant
Durant is quickly laying an indisputable claim to being the game's greatest closer. He was fantastic again in the fourth, making plays both in the open court and half-court sets.
OKC took the lead in the third with Durant being mostly a decoy, and he took over in the fourth to slam the door.
Who will win Game 2?
These two teams will keep it parked in Oklahoma City for Game 2 on Thursday, June 14, at 9 p.m. ET.
This is a huge game for the Heat. Since the NBA went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, only twice has the team without home-court advantage won all three of its home games.
The last thing the Heat want is to face the task of having to win the final two games of this series in OKC.
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