Kevin Durant guarding LeBron James.
LeBron James and the Heat once again prevailed over the Thunder in Game 4, winning 104-98. Between Kevin Durant and LeBron James, there is a huge competition for the Finals' brightest star. So far in this year's finals, James is averaging 30.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and four assists. He is shooting 46 percent, while Kevin Durant is shooting 57 percent.
In Game 3, the Heat won despite shooting only 37 percent from the field, but made up for it by making 31 of 35 free throws, while the Thunder only hit 15 of their 24. Free throws made a huge difference in this past game. This is a shocker because OKC was the No. 1 free throw-shooting team in the regular season.
However, going into Game 4 none of that mattered. At American Airlines Arena, the only thing standing in the way of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook from getting a ring was LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
The Thunder came out blazing against the Heat, up 13-3 just four minutes into the game on 60 percent shooting. It was a very physical start, with two fouls early on Serge Ibaka. However, regardless of the game's physicality, Oklahoma City came out determined to show that it was not going to give in so easily.
Westbrook made his presence well known on the court with an early 10 points, shooting 5-of-7 from the field. He seemed to be playing more controlled and focused more on shooting a high-percentage jumper, rather than playing his own game with disregard to everyone else on the court.
But then came the second quarter, and the Heat punched back with a 10-0 run, trying to combat the defense of Oklahoma City. Coach Brooks had to call a timeout to regroup the Thunder players.
As the game's pace picked up with fast transitions and quick passes, the Heat cut the deficit from 11 points to a three-point game. And then came a big three-pointer from Dwyane Wade to tie up the game for the first time at 35.
Come halftime, Russell Westbrook had 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and only one turnover, and there was no turning back for him for the rest of the game. He was 9-of-15 shooting and was finally showing his skills and playing like a true point guard.
Going into the third quarter, Kevin Durant had 17 points and was 6-of-12 from the field. After some crucial jumpers for the Thunder, Westbrook would increase his shooting percentage to 59 percent, hitting 10 of 17 shots. But it wasn't enough, as Mario Chalmers would hit a big jumper to give the Heat its largest lead of the night.
The Thunder's defense was faltering, as the Heat would take a 71-68 lead with just three minutes left in the quarter. But Westbrook wasn't ready to concede defeat.
Westbrook would do his best to put OKC on his back, carrying the Thunder with 37 points, five assists and seven rebounds. He also had the last 11 points of the Thunders' offensive grind. It was plain to see that the difficulty of Westbrook’s’ shots is matched up with his athleticism as the All NBA Second-Team member plays through the Heat's defense. The back-and-forth type play tied the game up at 90 midway through the fourth quarter.
After a crucial play, LeBron James cramped up and temporarily came out of the game. To some this would be a major setback, but not the Heat. They stood their ground and did not let the Thunder come back up the scoreboard to take the lead.
After about a minute of rest, LeBron James came back into the game and even hit a big three on his injured leg to make it 97-94. After a 7-0 run by the Heat, the Thunder called a timeout. James tried to fight his injury to lead his team to a victory while Chalmers stepped up to the plate.
After a while, James no longer fought it and sat on the bench. With James out, Udonis Haslem came in to take his place. Meanwhile, Westbrook cut down the lead to three points with 40.5 seconds left. Shane Battier made a crucial play and tipped it off to Chalmers to make the basket. With only a few seconds left, a costly turnover by Westbrook ended the game, and Miami clinched Game 4 with big play without their star towards the end.
Even with the efforts of Westbrook and Durant combining to make 71 points, the Miami Heat have taken command of the series. The ext game will be in South Beach, and it might just be the first time LeBron gets a ring.
Stay tuned. You will not want to miss Game 5.