Skip to content

NBA Finals Heat-Thunder Game 3: The Triad have found the nexus

Jun 18, 2012, 12:33 AM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Three Getty Images

In Miami’s 91-86 win over Oklahoma City Sunday night, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade scored 35 points on 34 shots. That’s a bad ratio. It would indicate that LeBron James (29 points on 23 shots) carried the team. But that’s off, you have to consider everything. The metrics, the plays, the context of the series, the matchups, everything. You have to see the whole board to identify what we saw in Game 3, and in this series.

And what we see is the Triad finding the nexus of their talents, playing together, playing well, and playing at the apex of their potential together, in terms of execution. The shots aren’t falling? That’s fine. The process matters more than the results in the course of a seven-game series ( as long as you win, right?).

What we saw in Game 3 was Dwyane Wade using the pick and roll and the Thunder’s adaptation to push the defense to the perimeter to find Chris Bosh inside for all three of his buckets. That forced the defense to adapt. That opened the perimeter for James to create inside. Their offensive rebounding forced adaptations. And James cutting inside, forcing the defense to slide to help, the doubles they forced, the intensity and execution created more and more opportunities.

But it was the defense that did it.

From the beginning, this Heat team was built on the concept that they had to play amazing defense to win. They had learned from losses to Boston and Orlando that the path to the title was through their defense, that their best use of their athleticism and talent was to extend and control the game defensively. This is a team that outshot the Knicks, outmuscled the Pacers, and outran the Celtics. Now they are grinding OKC down, behind the efforts of the Triad.

Chris Bosh had the best 3-12 game you’re going to find. 11 rebounds and 2 blocks. He posted a -7, but that stat doesn’t cover the late game impact he had. Bosh has also created a ton of possession for Miami by diving on the floor. He’s set the tone.

And that shouldn’t be overlooked, here. The Miami Heat are no longer “too good to try” in terms of these loose balls. They’re getting to the 50/50 balls and outworking the young guys. They look hungrier, more poised, and tougher. Those are nebulous things, but we see it with certain plays. Gone is the indecisiveness. When Wade works in isolation, LeBron’s no longer standing on the perimeter when Wade launches. He’s crashing the offensive glass. Wade’s no longer coasting possessions when LeBron works in the post. He’s cutting to the rim. They’re creating extra possessions and attacking early in the shot clock.

The uneasiness of how to make these players fit is gone, and much of it is seen in an approach that simply has stopped trying to out-think the opponent. The Heat aren’t waiting to make sure things are perfect. They’re using their talents, executing, and forcing things. Defensively, they’re attacking, attacking, attacking and the result in Game 3 was a Thunder team on its heels. There are times when it just seems too much, with Bosh making the smart play, Wade making the aggressive play, and James making the best play, often on one possession. It’s not dominant. It stalls at times. But they are close, so very close to that point where there’s just no way to beat them.

Still, the Thunder hang, hitting tough shot after tough shot, which is to their credit. And in Game 4, everything can be reversed, the Triad can go back into the mud, and it can end just like that. But in an ugly game, the Big 3 are creating what they need to, producing what they need to, building the team they want to.

They’re two games away from a championship.

Whether they stay here in the nexus may decide if those two wins are attainable.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Kings sign former college star Marshall Henderson to training camp deal

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT

    Marshall Henderson Marshall Henderson

    Henderson has played in Iraq and Qatar since going undrafted.

  2. Report: Russell Westbrook marrying longtime girlfriend this weekend

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Russell Westbrook Russell Westbrook

    Westbrook and Nina Earl have been together since college.

  3. Stephanie Ready to become first full-time female local NBA game color analyst

    Aug 27, 2015, 6:45 PM EDT

    From twitter.com/StephanieReady From twitter.com/StephanieReady

    As an NBA League Pass junkie I’ll tell you why I’m happy — she’s good.

  4. Remembering Darryl Dawkins’ 20 greatest dunks (VIDEO)

    Aug 27, 2015, 5:51 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwqxntu4mwq2otc2otkyntezmgm0njfmyjexywywmtdk AP

    If you’re keeping score at home, there are two shattered backboards on the list.

  5. Legendary Sixer, backboard-shattering dunker Darryl Dawkins dies at 58

    Aug 27, 2015, 4:25 PM EDT

    NBA House - Moynihan Station 2015 Getty Images

    Chocolate Thunder remained an ambassador of the game.

  6. Report: Ryan Hollins receiving interest from Kings, Wizards, Clippers

    Aug 27, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    He probably will land on a roster somewhere. Eventually.

  7. Pelicans pull French center Alexis Ajinca out of EuroBasket

    Aug 27, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Minnesota Timberwolves Getty Images

    This is a blow to France, but they remain one of the deepest teams at EuroBasket and one of the favorites.

  8. Despite earlier report, Chuck Hayes will not sign with Rockets

    Aug 27, 2015, 1:54 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Houston’s salary cap picture changed before the deal got inked.

  9. Pistons’ Brandon Jennings says when healthy he’s fine with being sixth man

    Aug 27, 2015, 11:54 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

    Stan Van Gundy wants to play Brandon Jennings and Stephen Jackson together at times.

  10. Report: Clippers, Glen Davis still talking about potential deal

    Aug 27, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets - Game Two Getty Images

    At this point in his career Davis is the “break glass in case of emergency” big.

  11. LeBron James sells Miami home for cool $13.4 million

    Aug 27, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    LeBron James AP

    LeBron turned a $4.4 million profit.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (1995)
  2. D. Rose (1811)
  3. K. Bryant (1650)
  4. J. Smith (1563)
  5. K. Irving (1409)
  1. T. Thompson (1396)
  2. T. Wroten (1346)
  3. A. Davis (1316)
  4. J. Embiid (1251)
  5. F. Saunders (1250)