Congratulations, everyone. We made it! The Finals are here and game one was pretty much everything we could have hoped for. We can but hope that the rest of the series will keep it up.
Oklahoma City Thunder 105, Miami Heat 94: Thunder lead series 1-0
Game one of the Finals followed a pretty similar script to game six of the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder fell behind early — albeit less so than they did in game six — and trailed at the half. But then they turned things around in the third quarter and took control.
Admittedly, the Heat’s first half performance seemed pretty unsustainable even as it was happening. They shot 60% from three, led by Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers of all people. For the game, Chalmers and Battier combined to go 11/16 from the field and score 29 points combined. Throw in a combined 6 rebounds and 6 assists, and basically the two combined to become Dwyane Wade for a night. Which was good, given that the real Dwyane Wade appeared to have gotten lost on his way to the arena. I mean, he scored 19 points and had 8 assists, so he could have been much worse, but that’s a pretty off night for him, especially on 7/19 from the field.
LeBron was pretty solid overall, finishing with 3o points and 9 rebounds, plus 4 steals and 4 assists. He also avoided appearing detached for the most part and was pretty involved throughout. The haters will find a way to discredit his performance, but he wasn’t nearly as bad as they would have you believe.
Kevin Durant, on the other hand, was everything we could have hoped for, especially in his first career finals game. He kept the Thunder alive repeatedly in the first half when it looked like the Heat were pulling away and scored 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder pulled away. Durant shot 60% from the field including 4/8 from three, had 8 rebounds and 4 assists, including a crucial dumpoff pass to Nick Collison for a dunk late in the fourth quarter that all but sealed it. Collison, by the way, made it pretty clear that he should be getting all of Kendrick Perkins’ minutes, scoring 8 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 21 minutes, along with some excellent defense. Russell Westbrook took some questionable shots at times, as per usual, but scored 27 points to go along with 8 rebounds and 11 assists. He vastly outplayed Wade to the point that it wasn’t even particularly funny and knifed into the lane repeatedly during the comeback in the third quarter. The Heat are going to have to figure out what to do with him and Durant going forward.
Interestingly, the Thunder won pretty convincingly despite James Harden being a non-factor for the most part. Serge Ibaka was solid, but didn’t play at all in the fourth, as the Thunder went small with Westbrook, Derek Fisher — Fisher was weirdly good throughout, even memorably going coast to coast for a layup off of a long rebound — Thabo Sefolosha, Durant and Collison for most of the fourth. Harden came in for the final 3 minutes or so, but that was it.
The Heat, contributions from Chalmers/Battier aside, are going to need more from people not named LeBron. Chris Bosh had 1o points off the bench, but was 4/11 from the field and only had 5 rebounds. Wade struggled. Mike Miller only played 10 minutes and didn’t score until a garbage time layup. Udonis Haslem had 11 rebounds but wasn’t anything to write home about otherwise. LeBron can’t do everything by himself against an excellent team like the Thunder. At some point, his supporting cast is going to have to show up.
That being said, I fully expect the Heat to take game two. Just a gut feeling. But we’ll see.
Game 2 will be on Thursday, June 14th at 8 PM on ABC in Oklahoma City.