The 2012 NBA Finals: Thunder Strikes First

Kevin Durant exploded for 17 points in the 4th quarter as
the Thunder dominated the Heat in the second half
(Photo by Getty Images)
 #ComebackKids #KidClutch
The Thunder is still perfect at home in the playoffs with a 9-0 record and they have won their 5th straight game. They look unbeatable right now. They spotted the Heat a 13-point lead in the first half until they took over after intermission to outscore the Heat by 18 points. The Thunder has constantly shown us that no lead is safe at home and they proved it again in Game 1. The Heat lead for three quarters until Kid Clutch took over in the 4th quarter and erupted for 17 of his 36 points. The Heat scored 21 in the 4th and had 40 points in the 2nd half while Westbrook and Durant had 41. LeBron and Wade used to do that in the previous rounds but the Thunder just showed us that they could simply do the same to the Heat. Just imagine if the Thunder got a lead early, does the Heat have enough energy and firepower to come back? On a positive note, the Heat still has another chance to steal a game in OKC. If they lose that one too, then this series could be over.

#Rondo2.0 #YoungWade
Russell Westbrook almost had a triple-double. He had 27 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds with only 2 turnovers. He gave the Heat problems similar to what Rondo did in the last round. The main difference with Westbrook was his overall athleticism and strong drives to the hoop. Russ also has a better jumper and free-throw shooting than Rondo. Russ totally outplayed Dwyane Wade who had modest numbers (19 pts, 8 assists and 4 rebs) but the Heat needs more from Wade to win. Westbrook continually attacked the paint and he was able to beat Wade off the dribble consistently. Meanwhile, Wade has continued to struggle with his jumper and he forced threes that were not even close. Westbrook had an easier time with his penetrations while Wade seemed passive and lacked the aggression. Wade just found out how hard it was to guard the 2006 version of himself.

The battle of Big 3s was a lopsided win for the Thunder. The Young 3 had 68 points, 16 rebounds and 18 assists while the Heat 3 had 59 points, 18 rebounds and 12 assists. James Harden didnt play much (22 mins) and only scored 5 points but Durant and Westbrook combined for 63 points. Kevin Durant was scoring with ease and his jumper was money especially in the 4th quarter. In contrast, D-Wade's jumpers looked horrible and most of them werent even close. LeBron James had troubles with his jump shot too and so was Chris Bosh. Durant just toyed with the defense of Battier and he killed Wade whenever a switch occurred. The Heat need to double team Durant next time or they need to have James on him early and often. Fatigue will be a major factor for James if he guards Durant often so coach Spo has to tweak his rotations and defense for Game 2. Ultimately, LeBron needs help offensively so that he can provide more on defense. Wade and Bosh need to step up their scoring because they cannot afford three more losses to the Thunder.

Russell Westbrook almost had a triple-double as the Big 2
of the Thunder outplayed the Big 2 of the  Heat
(Photo by Getty Images)
#rotationproblems #runNgun
Heat coach Spoelstra decided to use mainly 6 guys against the Thunder while coach Brooks went with 8 players at least playing 21 minutes each. That strategy worked wonders for the Thunder as the Heat players were gassed and stormed off the court by the younger, fresher and quicker Thunder. The Thunder had 6 days of rest while the Heat had only 2 yet Coach Spo played his main guys big minutes and that did not work in their favor. The Thunder dominated the transition chances and fast break points with a 24-4 advantage. That's a very surprising stat since the turnovers were fairly even (11-10 OKC). Hustle plays and loose balls were constantly won by the Thunder. Heat players were caught standing around after missed shots and being slow on their rotations, both byproducts of fatigue. Coach Spo needs to find a way to get his  main players some rest or the Heat will never win one game in this series.  

#FrontlineBattle #SoftBosh
The Heat needs Chris Bosh to be a major contributor for them to be competitive and have a chance to win. Bosh was a non-factor in Game 1. He managed only 10 points and 5 rebounds in 34 minutes plus he has fallen in love with the threes (1-3) and the perimeter game. He barely posted up and he hardly attacked the paint. He was not able to give the Heat a different look in their offense. To make matters worse, Bosh got outplayed by Nick Collison who had 10 points and 8 rebounds in just 21 minutes. Bosh was slow in his rotations and he was ineffective on defense. Even Serge Ibaka had similar numbers to Bosh with 10 points, 6 rebounds in 27 minutes. The Heat needed Bosh to score and rebound more than the other forwards/centers of the Thunder and Bosh needs to improve in Game 2. 

#Tweet of the Night

Thunder roasted Heat in the second half behind Durant and Westbrook. They combined for 41 points. The Heat scored 40. Heat got Thundered Up!

  • Westbrook had 18 points in the 2nd half, Durant had 23
  • Thunder out-rebounded the Heat 43-35
  • Thunder with 56-40 edge in points in the paint
  • Battier's 17 points is his highest in the playoffs
  • Chris Bosh did not start in Game 1
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