So far in the NBA post season, there has only been one day during the entire playoffs that there hasn’t been a game played. If I remember it was sometime between the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals and the Western Conference Finals. After Miami eliminated the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the NBA playoffs was put to a halt for two days. In those two days, writers wrote, critics criticized, fans kept following, and overall nobody could wait for the 2012 NBA Finals to begin last night in Oklahoma City. It was certainly a weird feeling not to watch an NBA playoff game when every night there was an NBA playoff game. And the game was pretty much what we expected it to be. It was fast paced, back-and-forth (except when the Heat had a double-digit lead to which the Thunder made a comeback), three-point shooting, and a whole lot of highlights from LeBron James’ dunk to Kevin Durant’s throwdown over Mike Miller. At the end of the game it was the Thunder that came up big when it mattered the most, the second half. Result? Thunder lead the NBA Finals 1-0.
In Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals, it was the stars from Oklahoma City that shined the brightest. Kevin Durant finished with 36 points, which included 17 in the 4th quarter alone. Durant’s sidekick, Russell Westbrook, finished up with a double-double of 27 points and 11 assists. Westbrook was two rebounds shy of a triple-double, which is something Westbrook hasn’t done in the post season thus far. In this game, the two stars had to shine with their third star seemingly quiet in the background. James Harden finished with a sub par 5 points which is something unacceptable as the 6th Man of the Year Award recipient. Durant and Westbrook, however, got solid defensive help from swingman defender Thabo Sefolosha who was primarily assigned to defend the 3-time league MVP in LeBron James. Despite allowing James to have an average 30 point night, Thabo still did a solid job causing havoc for LeBron and the Heat which would result to the Heat’s ugly offensive sequences in the second half. The Thunder were down by double-digits in the 1st half but, as they have proven in the past, no lead is too big for this young Thunder team, especially in front of a thunderous home crowd who were silenced in the early part of the game. The Thunder despite bad offense to start the game picked up the pace and it all started with their defense. Despite having James Harden’s bad game, the two other players of OKC’s Big 3 stepped up in a BIG way. It’s the NBA Finals.
As always, LeBron James was the focal point for the Heat. It has become obvious already that this is no longer Dwyane Wade’s team. It has become LeBron’s. James finished with 30 points, 9 rebounds, and just 4 assists, which is way below his playoff assist average. The Big 3 of Miami were simply unable to outwork Durant and Westbrook as the two starts in OKC outscored Miami’s Big Three 63-59. Wade finished with 19 points (7-19 field goal shooting) and Bosh, who came off the Heat’s bench once again, finished with 10 points (4-11 field goal shooting). The Heat got some help from their role players with Battier contributing with his 3-point shooting and Chalmer’s newly found aggressiveness. Battier, who hit big three’s in the Heat’s Game 7 win in the Eastern Conference Finals, carried over his great shooting into the NBA Finals. Battier finished with 4 three pointers which would help him finish with 17 points. Chalmers on the other hand finished 12 points and dished out 6 assists as well. The Heat’s role players certainly played in a way the Heat could have won had Wade and Bosh played better. As I have stated in my preview of the 2012 NBA Finals, each of the players in Miami’s Big 3 must have slightly above average games. It’s the NBA Finals.
The 2012 NBA Finals continue tomorrow with Game 2 in Oklahoma City. Game 2 tips-off at 9:00 PM ET on ABC. Watch it BIG!
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