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NBA Finals Heat-Thunder Game 2: LeBron hulks out inside and rips Thunder to shreds

Jun 15, 2012, 1:53 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Two

For years we’ve asked the question.

LeBron James is so big and powerful. Why doesn’t he get inside more?”

In Game 2 of the NBA Finals, we found out what happens when he does. James scored 18 of his 32 points in the paint. He scored 20 points on field goal attempts. So on non-free-throws, James scored 18 of 20 in the paint in the Heat’s 100-96 win.

Here’s a look at his shot chart for the game, which shows just how aggressive he was in this game, when the team needed him most down 1-0. This game may honestly have been more impressive than his 45-point explosion vs. Boston. He attacked instead of relying on the jumper, he fought for his points instead of settling. That word is huge. When LeBron James doesn’t settle, he is impossible to defend.



That’s the kind of LeBron James who can ruin a team’s night, and James did it in Game 2. James realized early on that the Thunder have no one who can contain him inside and he made it a point to drive and jump-stop, drive and jump-stop. He had the array going. Jump hooks, floaters, runners, dunks, and putbacks. It was a brutal array that left the Thunder stunned. The Heat outscored the Thunder 48-32 in points in the paint. James was a monter reason why.

Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant were gifted a jump-shooting James in Game 1, only to find in Game 2 a James engaged and raging in the paint. It was Bruce Banner turning into the Hulk. And when Serge Ibaka blocked James in the first quarter, James turned around and got two driving layups on him, one on a fly-by, another with a pump-fake, putting the brakes on and watching Ibaka Top Gun on by.

The Thunder were caught in a bad situation. Switch and put a big on him, he bursts past. Put a wing defender on him in isolation, and he muscles inside. But more than that is this. James isn’t settling anymore. He took one bad shot late going for the dagger. But when his team needed him to make plays, he put on his hard hat and went to the paint. This is bad for the Thunder, bad for the league, bad for anyone up against him.

You can survive James when he’s doing the all-around game. But a LeBron James motivated and engaged in creating shots close to the rim, with that kind of athletic set?

That’s the stuff of nightmares. And it’s the stuff of a tied series going back to Miami.

  1. edweird0 - Jun 15, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    Finally a good article on tonight’s game.

  2. angulocarlos1 - Jun 15, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    I’m on the Kobe System – Westbrooke

  3. sk1llz187 - Jun 15, 2012 at 2:30 AM


  4. asublimeday - Jun 15, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    Fluke. The heat losing this series is an inevitability.

    • dirtyassfish - Jun 15, 2012 at 7:48 AM

      Ya a Fluke. You jackhole! Did you watch the game? The Heat held it for most the game & you have to expect the OKC to have runs & make it close they are an awesome team the Heat are just better.

    • southbeachtalent - Jun 15, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      What’s ineveitable is the Cows next 5 years of irrelevance.

      • southbeachtalent - Jun 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM


  5. j0esixpack - Jun 15, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    It all depends on whether the Refs choose to call fouls on him.

    In Game 7 against the Celts he had 0. Nada – given the greenlight to bull his way to the basket by the officials

    Last LeBron picked up some fouls for the same type of play and had to sit for stretches and it very much allowed the Thunder to keep things close after their very slow start. That’s not to dis Jame’s obvious strength and skill – it’s just that sometimes the officials are more helpful on some nights than others.

    • turnmymicup - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Not to dis your obvious grammar skills but his name is LeBron James. No need for the apostrophe. Example: LeBron James ability to drive and get into the paint helped the team win not the Refs. He hit 12 for 12 from the free throw line and earned every foul. If LeBron keeps driving like this OKC has a big problem.

      • j0esixpack - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:24 PM

        You might want to blame Steve Job’s iPad auto correct – but don’t let that get in the way of your very original attempt to slam via a grammar criticism.

        The point you seem to miss was that the question isn’t whether James’ gets fouled – it’s how often he fouls and travels bulling his way to the basket.

        Hey – if the officials allow it, more power to him. That’s not his fault. I actually though last night was a pretty fairly called game. It’s refreshing.

        Hopefully now that Stern has the teams he wants in the finals he’ll just let them play and let the refs call them like they see them (if anyone can trust them after the Donaghy incident.)

  6. ceschatz - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    And the Thunder shooting more FT’s in both games than the Heat as well as leaving Durant in even after making a blatant charging foul on Battier for his 6th isnt the officials being helpful?

    • turnmymicup - Jun 15, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      Great point.

  7. michflaguy - Jun 15, 2012 at 4:52 PM

    We may not have liked his press conference when he announced his move to Miami.
    We may not like a lot of the things that he and Wade have said and done in the past 2 years.
    But we all need to just shut up, sit down and watch what this guy is doing right now.
    LeBron is dominating games in every corner of the court.
    Offensively, defensively, floor-coaching, intimidating opposition – you name it, this guy is doing it better than anyone on the floor.
    I have my reservations about LeBron…but if you are a true basketball fan you are in awe of what he is doing as a player in this playoff run.
    The guy is simply an unstoppable force.

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