Both sides now face a ton of questions and the pressure shifts to Oklahoma City to steal a win or two in Miami, where the Heat are a combined 36-7 (including playoffs) on the season.
The Heat, with Chris Bosh in the starting lineup looked as good in Game 2 as they have since the Big Three was formed.They will need a similar effort in Game 3.
For Oklahoma City, getting off to a good start will be a must as the Thunder have made it a habit of getting off to slow starts, only to rely on big fourth-quarter efforts to win games.
Whichever team can make the necessary adjustments has a good chance of taking a 2-1 series lead.
Who will that be? Here is a look at everything you need to know about this pivotal NBA Finals game.
When: Sunday, June 17 at 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: American Airlines Arena in Miami, FL
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line: Miami (-.3.5) via 5Dimes
Thunder Key Injuries (Per CBS Sports)
No Key Injuries Reported
Heat Key Injuries (Per CBS Sports)
No Key Injuries Reported
What They're Saying
The slow start by the Thunder in which they fell behind 18-2 hurt them in the end and ultimately played a big role in Miami tying the series up. ESPN's Marc Stein says the Thunder got everything they deserved in losing home-court advantage.
Stein also suggests that had Kevin Durant got the call he should have gotten against LeBron James towards the end of regulation, that would not have guaranteed a Thunder victory.
You can't came out flat at home three straight games against title-worthy teams. You can't expect to win with a paltry 14 assists and iffy free throw shooting and Russell Westbrook needing 26 shots to score 27 points ... which will surely shift a good chunk of the between-games scrutiny from LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Erik Spoelstra onto Westbrook's own sensitive shoulders.
The Thunder, folks, never led for a second in this one. Westbrook came out of the gates wild and it took the hosts a full four quarters to dig out of the hole. Even with James Harden's return to prominence (21 points) and five emphatic blocks from Serge Ibaka (after an uncharacteristic zero swats in Game 1), they played 48 minutes of catch-up. And they suddenly aren't playing the same sort of team ball that memorably slayed the Spurs four straight times, as a playoff-low 43 points at the half -- with zero fast-break points at that stage -- would suggest.
The truth? Even if Durant had gotten that call on the baseline, OKC would have had a l-o-n-g way to go to take a 2-0 series lead to South Beach. Even if LeBron had gotten called for hooking KD before that ill-fated baseline floater went up, OKC would have needed two free throws from Durant for the tie on an evening he shot just 4-for-6 at the line ... and then a stop at the other end to force overtime ... and then a flourish in OT while Durant was saddled with five fouls.
From the Miami Heat perspective, ESPN's Michael Wallace takes a look at how the return of Bosh to the starting lineup meant everything in the Miami victory.
With Bosh stepping back into his comfort zone as a starter alongside Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, the Heat set a dominant tone in the first half Thursday before scrambling to hold on for a 100-96 victory that tied the series 1-1. With the win, the Heat snatched home-court advantage away from the Thunder, with the next three games in Miami.
Bosh had 16 points, a game-high 15 rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal in 40 minutes Thursday during his first start since he sustained the abdominal strain May 13 in Game 1 of Miami's second-round series against Indiana.
It was the kind of aggressive performance Bosh vowed to deliver after he struggled to make much of an impact at all 48 hours earlier when the Thunder pounded the Heat in the paint and eventually ran away for the victory in Game 1.
After missing seven of his 11 shots and grabbing just five rebounds in 34 minutes Tuesday, Bosh said he was frustrated with his performance, but insisted he would regroup in Game 2, with Miami still having a chance to “change the complexion completely” of the series.
Then, he delivered.
Most Important Player to Watch: Russell Westbrook
Westbrook has to be a point guard first for the Thunder to come out a winner in Game 3.
He will still get his scoring opportunities but setting up his teammates has to be priority No. 1 for Westbrook, especially early on.
Westbrook must set the tempo from the opening tip. He was a key part in digging the Thunder a big hole, starting the game 1-of-7 from the floor and that cannot happen again.
Quite simply he must take higher percentage shots when he does shoot it.
Sure he scored 27 points in each game but did so by only hitting 20-of-50 shots.
Fifty shots? That's unacceptable any way you want to look at it, especially since a guy like LeBron is averaging 31 points in the series by taking only 46 shots.
On his own team, there is no reason Westbrook should be chucking up 50 shots in two games when Durant has attempted only 42 and James Harden only 17.
Key Matchup: Chris Bosh vs. Serge Ibaka
For Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks it has to be as simple as this. Less Kendrick Perkins and more Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison.
Playing Perkins on Bosh made it easy for the seven-time All-Star and that cannot happen again.
The key for each team winning so far has been their defense being able to get stops when they need it.
In Game 1, Oklahoma City was able to get out in transition, outscoring the Heat 24-4 in fast break points. That's what the Thunder need in Game 3 and they can do that partially by playing Ibaka on Bosh.
Bosh's 16 points hurt, but not nearly as bad as his 15 boards, especially when seven of them created extra possessions for Miami.
Ibaka blocked five shots in Game 2, but he is going to have to limit Bosh's production for the Thunder to have a chance.
This finals is going to turn into a series of chess moves by each head coach. I think Brooks makes the proper adjustments for Game 3 and the Thunder win a classic.
Thunder 103, Heat 102
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