NBA Finals 2012: 3 Veterans Who Must Step Up in Pivotal Game 2
Now, let's look at three players to watch in tonight's game as the Heat try to even up the series before heading back to South Florida. All the players featured in this article struggled in Game 1 and must perform well tonight in order to give their teams a chance to win.
James Harden: The NBA's Sixth-Man of the Year in 2011-12 cannot afford another five point outing if Oklahoma City is to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series tonight. Sure, an off night here or there is fine, but as talented as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are, they too will have an off night from time to time.
Harden gives the Thunder that crucial third scoring option and has the ability to change the complexion of a game with his sometimes-deadly shooting from beyond the arc.
We can't realistically expect 17 points in the fourth from Durant every game, and that alone represents the biggest reason why Harden must step up tonight.
His minutes may be limited to a certain degree however, given the lockdown defense that Thabo Sefolosha played on LeBron James down the stretch in Game 1.
Dwyane Wade: This may be the most important name on this list. LeBron's right-hand man must be his vintage self if the Heat are to win Game 2 tonight.
Heck, James practically asked for more help from Wade tonight. According to Mitch Lawrence of New York Daily News, No. 6 is trying to light a fire under his teammate before Game 2.
Who Wins Game 2?
“Sometimes I go to him and tell him I need one of those games from him,’’ James said before the Heat’s practice. “He knows he still has it, too, but every player needs a little kick every now and then, no matter how time-tested they are. I continue to try to let him know how important he is to the team, which he should know, but he also needs to be D-Wade and not worry about deferring as much.”
Another stat line that produces just 19 points on 19 shots won't be enough from Wade, as the struggles continue for the fifth overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft. Throughout the Eastern Conference finals and the first game of the NBA finals, D-Wade has looked absolutely lost at times in the first half.
One of the most telltale signs of his struggles are the sometimes ill-fated fadeaways that he puts up with a defender, or sometimes two, in his face. The Heat need the Marquette product to be his typical slashing self, without settling for too many outside jumpers.
Chris Bosh: The best third wheel in the NBA needs to be just that tonight in order to give his team a chance to steal Game 2 in "Loud City," as it has come to be known.
The player who provides some of the most entertaining game faces we've ever seen must be better than 4-for-11 from the field and 1-of-3 from three-point range.
At times in Game 1, Bosh was much too hesitant to play in the paint, as he settled for a number of outside jumpers.
Yes, I know he is a gifted mid-range shooter, but he should not be taking a trio of three-pointers again in this series. Optimists point to the threes that he made in Game 7 against the Celtics, but for a guy who had never before done that in his career, does anyone really expect it to become a regular thing?
The former Raptor is the Heat's best inside presence by a wide margin, and must be just that against the formidable front line of the Thunder.
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