Despite getting out to a big lead early and looking fairly comfortable on the road, the Miami Heat ultimately collapsed in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and lost by a wide margin to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Things may look somewhat bleak for the Heat right now, but a win in Game 2 would put everything back on even terms.
There was a lot that Miami did right in Game 1, but plenty needs to be improved upon as well. It became clear that the Heat peaked too early in the contest, and that allowed the Thunder to storm back in the second half. In order to avoid yet another disappointing result on Thursday, Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra has some work to do.
Here are the three biggest keys to the Heat bouncing back from their disappointing loss in Game 1 and evening the series at a game apiece.
Start Chris Bosh and Integrate Him More
Bringing star power forward Chris Bosh off the bench against the Thunder was a curious decision by the Heat in Game 1, and it turned out to be the wrong one.
Bosh did essentially play starting minutes as he was on the floor for 34 minutes, but he wasn't a big enough factor. He scored just 10 points and pulled down five rebounds, which simply wasn't good enough after the big-time impact he had in the closing games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.
Bosh had 19 points and eight boards in the decisive Game 7 against Boston and was truly the X-factor that gave Miami the win.
Because of his versatility on the offensive end, Bosh should be an integral player for the Heat against the Thunder. His ability to step out and hit jumpers from anywhere on the floor is huge, and it should be a big help in drawing Serge Ibaka or Kendrick Perkins out of the paint. If Miami can do that, then it will set up the next key nicely.
Drive to the Basket With James and Wade
One of my biggest pet peeves with the Heat is that they stray from things too often despite the fact that they are working. Miami is at its best when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are driving to the hoop, because they either score the basketball or get to the free-throw line the vast majority of the time.
That seemed to be the case on Tuesday night, but Miami deviated from that a bit in the second half and I believe it ultimately resulted in their demise.
There is no reason for the Heat to settle for contested jump shots when James is stronger than everyone on the floor and Wade is quicker than everyone on the floor. The big concern is likely Ibaka and Perkins down low since they're both capable shot blockers, but Shane Battier had Ibaka drawn out for most of the night. Bosh can do the same with Perkins in Game 2, and it should create a lot of space for LeBron and D-Wade.
They may be the two most explosive players in the game, and they have to prove that by attacking the rim in Game 2.
Double Team Kevin Durant
It's obvious that putting extra bodies on Kevin Durant opens up a can of worms for the Heat since guys like Russell Westbrook and James Harden can beat them as well, but if you cut off the serpent's head, the rest is usually rendered ineffective as well.
Durant was on his game on Tuesday night as he rained in 36 points and was almost unstoppable late in the contest. Durant was covered one-on-one for most of the game, though, and that is something that Miami needs to reexamine.
The Heat need to decide that they won't allow Durant to beat them. Durant piling up points is the quickest route to a Miami loss, and while Westbrook and Harden may be good enough to beat Miami as well, that is far from a certainty.
The Heat were far too lax defensively in the second half as they sagged off Durant and Westbrook and allowed for too many easy jumpers without even getting their hands up. That simply won't fly against the three-time reigning scoring champion, so Miami ought to focus on locking down Durant in Game 2, and then everything else should fall into place.
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