Game 2 of the NBA Finals tips off tonight in Oklahoma City at 9:00 PM ET. The Thunder will be looking to build upon their Game 1 success, while the Miami Heat will be trying to even the series before they head home.
Because of the 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals, a win for the Heat in Game 2 is a necessity. A loss means that the Heat cannot win the NBA Championship on their home floor
And unless the Heat reel off three consecutive victories at home, they will be forced to take Game 6 and Game 7 from the Thunder in Oklahoma City, a nearly impossible task.
With that being said, it is clear that the Heat have a lot riding on tonight’s game. LeBron James needs this game if he wants that elusive first ring. And I hope, for Erik Spoelstra’s sake, that they come out on top.
But it’s not going to happen.
The Thunder are just too good.
Take a moment to think back to the Western Conference Finals. Remember when the San Antonio Spurs had taken a 2-0 series lead and were on a 20-game winning streak? San Antonio looked like a team on the way to their fifth title since 1999. There was talk of a sweep.
And then, the sweep happened.
The Thunder ripped off four straight wins to take the series. Yes, four in a row. Against the supposed best team on the planet.
I don’t think people understand the gravity of that accomplishment. The Spurs had dropped four games over a three month stretch, and suddenly, the Thunder beat them four consecutive times in a week.
The Thunder are just too good.
Until they met a better Big Three.
If you had to pick between the two Big Threes right now, who would you take?
I know who I'd pick.
LeBron has three MVP's, while Durant has three scoring titles. Wade has just not been D-Wade of late, while Westbrook has been electric. And if I am choosing between Bosh or Harden as my sixth man? I'm taking Harden every time.
Additionally, the Thunder have been beating the Heat at their own game.
The Miami Heat play their best basketball when the game is fast-paced. They believe that since they have the best players, the more possessions they get and the more times their guys touch the ball, the better chance they have at winning the game.
So do the Thunder.
Case in point: Oklahoma City outscored Miami 24-4 in fast break points in Game 1. 24 to four. That's not even close.
This forces the Heat to play exceptionally in the half-court game, something they're not exactly exceptional at doing.
The Miami offense looks stagnant at times, with four guys ball-watching as LeBron runs isolation after isolation. On the defensive end, the Heat have exactly one player who can stop Durant, although Spoelstra insists on putting LeBron on Kendrick Perkins instead.
The Thunder however, look crisp in their half-court offense. The dribble drive from Durant, Westbrook and Harden has been unguardable. Defensively, Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha provide a "Big Three" of their own.
And I almost forgot.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a perfect 9-0 at home in the NBA Playoffs. That's two wins against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, three apiece from the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs and now one from the Miami Heat.
You see, the Thunder are just too good.
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