The Miami Heat dominated the Oklahoma City Thunder for much of the first half in Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals. The second half was a much different story. The Heat could not manage to stop the Thunder offense, and that made it very difficult to keep up on the scoreboard.
Not only did the Heat struggle defensively in the second half, but they also struggled on the offensive end at times.
Here are three things that Miami needs to do better in Game 2 to avoid falling behind 2-0 to the Thunder.
Last night the outside jumper was not falling for Wade very much at all. The main reason is because he was strongly defended on every jump shot he took. Even when Wade knocked shots down, he was falling away with a hand in his face.
It was a wonder how he even made some of the shots.
Wade took 10 jumpers from outside 10 feet during the game and only made three of them. This statistic was really emphasized during the third quarter of the game when the Thunder made their comeback. In the third, Wade took four jumpers from outside 10 feet and a jumper from nine feet away—he missed all five of them.
Dwyane Wade has a great outside shot, but he needs to combine that with his ability to get to the basket and score. When a defender is afraid that you could blow by him and score at any second, they will not play you as closely. It will allow you to get a little more separation when you take your jump shot. Then again, if they continue to play right up on you, then keep blowing past them and taking easy layups.
Wade only took three shots in the game from inside two feet of the basket. When you compare this to the LeBron and Durant, LeBron had seven shots from inside two feet, while Durant had six.
Clearly, Wade did not drive the lane enough in Game 1, and if the Miami Heat want to pick up more easy points in Game 2 and get to the free throw line more, Wade needs to drive the lane more in Game 2.
The Heat have struggled in transition defense for much of the playoffs, so this is probably the hardest thing for them to fix. Miami just does not get back quickly enough when they miss shots or turn the ball over.
One of the most memorable moments of the Heat's more transition defense in Game 1 was when Kevin Durant trailed behind the rest of the Thunder offense late in the first quarter. He was left with a wide open three, which he absolutely nailed. Miami can not let shooters get wide open shots in transition, especially Kevin Durant.
Transition defense is something that is very difficult to do.
It is hard to match up with players when they are flying down the court at you on the fast break, but the Heat need to do the little things right. After missing a shot or turning the ball over, hustle back instead of jogging. Turn around and find your man.
If the Heat can improve their transition defense in Game 2, then it can limit some of the wide-open shots that the Thunder were taking.
LeBron James is one of the best defenders the NBA has ever seen. His ability to guard every player on the court, one through five, is extremely unique. The Miami Heat like to use this ability throughout the game to have him guard multiple players at multiple positions.
That being said, when the fourth quarter comes around, James needs to be guarding the best player on the court, Kevin Durant. Durant paced himself through much of the game, only taking one shot in the second quarter and then only three in the third quarter. When the fourth quarter came around, though, Durant exploded like he has done all year.
He took 10 shots in the fourth quarter, and Shane Battier was simply no match for his explosive play.
The Thunder had Durant guard James throughout much of Game 1 and will likely do that for the rest of the series. If the Miami Heat want to win this series, LeBron James will need to be on Kevin Durant when the fourth quarter rolls around.