It appeared like the Miami Heat had Game 1 in hand early on, but the Thunder, led by stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, stormed back to earn the team’s first NBA Finals victory since they moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City.
Now the question for the Heat is, how can they prevent this from happening again?
You can’t point the finger at LeBron James, like the fans and media love to do, since he had another great game. James put up his NBA Finals career high in scoring, 30 points, in addition to grabbing nine rebounds and getting four steals.
Unlike how the playoffs have gone so far for Miami, James will not be able to defeat the Thunder by himself. He is going to need his teammates to step up and match his level of intensity if the Heat want to have a chance of winning a game versus the Thunder, let alone an entire series.
Here are three Heat players who must bounce back from a poor Game 1 in order to prevent them from going down 0-2.
Game 1 Statistics: 4 Points, 11 Rebounds, 0 Blocks
The Heat need Udonis Haslem to be more of a presence on the defensive end in Game 2.
The Thunder are so great at penetrating into the lane, so the Heat need an enforcer in the middle to prevent Durant and Westbrook from getting easy shots at the rim. With Bosh coming off the bench, Haslem is really the only big man the Heat have in their starting lineup. Whether he likes it or not, Haslem needs to step into this role for the Heat to win.
Haslem can also really help his team by knocking down his mid-range jumper. He only went 2-of-6 in Game 1, well below his playoff shooting percentage of 46 percent entering the game.
Game 1 Statistics: 10 Points, 5 Rebounds, 0 Blocks
Chris Bosh clearly still looks bothered by that abdominal strain that forced him to miss nine playoff games this season. However, if he’s going to play significant minutes like he did last night, he needs to produce for his team.
Bosh must look for better shots in the flow of the offense. Since when did he become a three-point shooter? Bosh took only 35 three-pointers this entire season, but has already taken seven in his last two games alone.
Bosh also really needs to improve his rebounding with the Heat playing such a small lineup so often. Grabbing five rebounds in 34 minutes is just unacceptable for a player who averages 9.1 rebounds per game for his career.
Game 1 Statistics: 19 Points, 8 Assists, 4 Rebounds
For most players those statistics would be sufficient, but this is Dwyane Wade we’re talking about.
The Big Two of the Heat must outperform the Thunder’s Big Two in order to win Game 2. In Game 1, Durant and Westbrook outscored, out-rebounded and out-assisted James and Wade. This absolutely cannot happen again if the Heat want to prevent going down 0-2.
Wade must also step up his defense. He is the only player the Heat have in their rotation who is quick enough to stay in front of Westbrook and Harden, so he needs to do a much better job keeping them out of the paint and off of the free-throw line in Game 2.