Dec 25, 2012, 11:33 PM EDT
If this is going to be the NBA finals again, I am all good with that. In fact, can we start it tomorrow?
The Thunder and Heat gave us all the Christmas Day gift of what felt as close to playoff game as you are going to get in December— it was physical, intense, even Kevin Durant and LeBron James were jawing at each other by the end of this one.
And just like the last three times the Heat and Thunder played in Miami it was the Heat that came away with the win, 103-97.
This win means nothing if these teams meet again in June — there are no statement games in December. But the game did remind us of a few things.
Miami makes things a struggle for the Thunder like seemingly no other team in the NBA can do. If you watched games from Oklahoma City’s recent 12-game winning streak you would see fantastic ball movement, great spacing and guys getting good looks in the flow of the offense. But the Heat take the Thunder out of that flow — Oklahoma City becomes a team that likes too much isolation and doesn’t move off the ball.
The result is when you need a three to tie the game with 14 seconds left you end up with Durant taking a contested step-back three with LeBron in his face. (As for Russell Westbrook being fouled on that next three… I don’t know. The review was inconclusive. But OKC wouldn’t have needed a three if they had defended on what became a Chris Bosh dunk the play before. One foul never loses you a game by itself.)
Miami raced off to a 13-2 start with LeBron James throwing down dunks to get off to a fast start on his way to a huge 29-point, 8 rebound, 9 assist game. He made a statement that if you are going to have a conversation about the MVP and have Carmelo Anthony and Durant in it go ahead, but you better have LeBron in that mix as well.
The Thunder closed that gap with the three by the end of the first quarter and eventually tied it up 39-39. We had a game the rest of the way.
For the Thunder, it was 33 for Durant in the kind of quality game an MVP has on the big stage. But after that things dropped off a little — Westbrook had 21 points but needed 19 shots to get them, Kevin Martin had 15 but hit just 4-of-10 shots.
The real question I have for Scottie Brooks — why so much Kendrick Perkins, particularly late in the game. Perkins has a role on your team against the Lakers or Grizzlies, but against the Heat he seems lost without a position and was exposed by the Heat.
And with all that, it was a six point final score in a game the Thunder had a shot in. They need to play at their peak to beat the Heat and we didn’t see that on Christmas just like we didn’t last June. Like the protagonist in an action movie, the Heat are going to have to play at a new level to beat the Heat in a series. Oklahoma City may have that in them but their margin for error is small. And we saw too many little mistakes.
But it’s close.
It could be different if they meet in the finals. And if that happens, I’m good with it.
- Chris Andersen complements Heat’s Big Three so well 0
- Pacers’ coach Vogel explains decision to bench Hibbert late, says ‘we’ll probably have him in next time’ 2
- LeBron’s triple-double, game-winner in overtime lead Heat to Game 1 win over Pacers 6
- LeBron’s game-winning layup at the overtime buzzer gives Heat Game 1 win over Pacers (VIDEO) 13
- Report: Carmelo Anthony has torn labrum, may need surgery 4
- Report: Dwight Howard will consider multiple teams in free agency, is said to be most intrigued by the Rockets (122)
- Kobe Bryant responds to Michael Jordan comparison from Phil Jackson (89)
- Alonzo Mourning says Scottie Pippen says LeBron would “kick Jordan’s ass” (75)
- Bradley Beal said he’d lose respect for a teammate who acted like Derrick Rose (67)
- Pacers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals with Game 6 win over Knicks (60)
- LeBron stuns Pacers with OT winner in Game 1
- Pens overwhelm Sens, take 3-1 series lead
- Tiger calls Sergio's comments inappropriate, hurtful
- Bears great Urlacher announces retirement
- HBT: Canseco suspect in Vegas sexual assault
- Posnanski on Golf: Sergio shows disdain for Tiger
- OlyTalk: Coach K will lead Team USA in Rio Games