The Miami Heat made a big statement by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day, 103-97.
Fans of the NBA wanting to see a great game certainly had their holiday wishes come true—this was an entertaining game from the start.
The Heat jumped out to an early lead, feeding off the home crowd in Miami. However, Oklahoma City was out to show why many consider this to be a preview of the 2013 NBA Finals. The Thunder rode a big performance from Kevin Durant right back into the game.
The Thunder went to the rim early and often, racking up 38 free-throw attempts in the process to keep them in the game.
However, it was LeBron James who would ultimately be the difference. Soaking in the national spotlight that comes with playing on Christmas, James appeared set to show why he's considered the best player in the world. He torched the Thunder for 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
James received plenty of help from his supporting cast. Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade both scored over 20 points despite Wade being forced to miss a portion of the game with leg cramps.
Despite the six-point margin of victory, this was a close game that should have fans looking forward to any potential Finals matchup between these two teams. This was the kind of physical, closely contested game that fans want to see.
Player of the Game: LeBron James, F, Miami Heat
After watching James play on the biggest stage of the regular season, he has to be the early favorite to take home another MVP trophy.
James was painfully efficient from the floor and a force on the defensive end of the floor as well. James' numbers were nothing unusual for him—he nearly had a triple-double with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.
In all, the Heat scored 42 points in the paint and James was a huge part of that. The star forward only took three shots from outside the arc and routinely broke down the Thunder's defense.
Up Next for Oklahoma City
The 21-6 Thunder will go back to Oklahoma City to play the 12-16 Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 27.
Up Next for Miami
The 19-6 Heat will travel to Charlotte to take on the 7-20 Bobcats on Dec. 26.