Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: OKC’s big comeback
You wouldn’t see a re-incarnted Sun Tzu penning basketball strategies that include being down 13 at any point in an NBA Finals game, but the Thunder never quite seemed uncomfortable with their deficits in Game 1. Like a battering ram taking a few tries to get through the castle gates, they come back from down double digits to get close or even tie the game… only to fail to break through and fall back down double-digits again. Once the did get through, though, it was over.
Russell Westbrook’s lay up and-1 finally gave OKC a lead in the 4th quarter, and they never gave it back. Kevin Durant unleashed an unholy fury on the Heat in the fourth quarter (more on that later) that flipped the script on the Heat… pushing them down double-digits and winning 105-94.
The Heat scored 40 points in the second half. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant scored 41.
2: Miami’s fizzle
Dwyane Wade can be called “Flash” again… but only because he’s showing little more than flashes of his former self in these playoffs. 19 points on 19 shots won’t get the job done against the Thunder, especially if LeBron can’t get it going over stretches. Wade shot 7-19 and is simply not attacking the way we’re used to Wade attacking.
LeBron… well… it was a tough fourth quarter for LeBron. While Durant was taking over, LeBron didn’t score until the 6:52 mark and then his next points came at 2:44. Fresh off two dominant, clutch, MVP worthy performances against the Boston Celtics, LeBron couldn’t summon an encore for the Thunder.
In the end, the Thunder looked like a team that just had a six day layoff… starting rusty and, they admit, a bit nervous… but finishing strong. And the Heat looked like a team that just needed all 346 minutes in a seven-game series to get past a physical Boston team… coming out well enough but fading in the end. That’s certainly not the biggest factor in this, but it’s a factor.
Kevin Durant’s huge dunk on Chris Bosh from every angle
LeBron crosses Durant over, draws the foul, then dunks on (sorta) Kendrick Perkins
Durant with the block on Wade on one end… and the and-1 on the other
4: Line of the Night: Kevin Durant – 36 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists
Durant went into the fourth quarter with 19 points. He nearly doubled his point total in the final period with a barrage of baskets from all over the floor. He dunked, he he mid-range shots, he hit 3′s. That was an MVP performance from a guy who Shaq could easily dub “The Big Matchup Problem.”
5: You can quote me on that
“just being in The Finals, we kind of was nervous, I guess. That’s something we can’t‑‑ it can’t happen next game or the rest of the series. Just got to come out with a lot of energy, and hopefully we do it next game.”
-Kevin Durant on OKC’s slow start
Some nights I have big nights scoring and some nights I don’t. That’s been the season. That’s just the way that it’s designed for me. I’m just always staying aggressive, like I said, for myself and for my teammates to make sure they get good looks, and also be aggressive for myself to get shots. Some are going to go in, some are not.
-Dwyane Wade, on his toug shooting night