Miami is the best front running team in sports. If they jump on you, the Heat play with a different level of effort and intensity. It was that effort, with guys like Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers, and particularly Chris Bosh swarming defensively and that helped Miami jump out to a 17 point lead. When the game gets tight, their anxiousness is almost visible when watching. But they made just enough plays to hold off the hard charging Thunder Thursday night.
LeBron made the plays that Durant did not. The total numbers may not show it, but James outplayed Durant in Game 2. The tough bank shot over Thabo Sefalosha to push the lead back to six was the play of the game in my opinion. That was the cushion needed because OKC did not stop charging. Then James made two enormous free throws to seal the game. With each game, the Houdini act of the 2011 Finals can be cast aside.
Shane Battier is the biggest x-factor for Miami. Unlike Chalmers or Haslem, Battier is much more likely to be a direct beneficiary of penetration by James and Dwyane Wade. As such, his three-point shooting looms even larger as the series shifts to South Beach. Battier has simply been outstanding for the Heat and will need to continue shooting like this because he will get open looks.
Why did it take Scott Brooks so long to re-insert James Harden in the 2nd half? A real head scratcher because Harden was fantastic offensively tonight. Harden played 35 minutes, but probably should've played 41 or 42 with the lack of production Sefolosha and Derek Fisher provided.
Yes, James fouled Durant. Yes, Westbrook was probably fouled on the putback attempt. But you are just not going to see calls like that made with the game on the line. The classic unofficial official end game rules applied. It was a good play by coach Scott Brooks and Durant made the mistake of hoping for a whistle. Maybe he will realize you do not do that in the Finals if he gets a second chance.
So far, so great.