Skip to content

Heat knock Thunder out of rhythm, hang on for close win

Dec 25, 2012, 11:33 PM EDT

Miami Heat's LeBron James is defended by Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka in Miami Reuters

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 Miami we had a Mario Chalmers sighting — he had 20 points and shot 4-of-8 from three. Dwyane Wade had 21 points, Chris Bosh 16.

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Bucks sign Micheal Eric

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    NCAA Basketball Tournament - South Florida v Temple Getty Images

    Milwaukee will likely waive former Temple center before season

  2. Kings give Ryan Hollins fully guaranteed one-year contract

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Clippers New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Clippers

    Clippers rushed to upgrade from Hollins as backup center, the role Hollins will likely hold in Sacramento

  3. Knicks sign Orlando Sanchez

    Sep 17, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

    Providence v St. John's Providence v St. John's

    Sanchez played for St. John’s, Dominican Republic national team

  4. Omer Asik wants to just defend, rebound. Which is just fine with Anthony Davis.

    Sep 17, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT

    New Orleans Hornets v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    Asik and Davis could be one of the NBA’s best defensive front lines.

  5. Nets sign Hamady Ndiaye to compete for third-center job

    Sep 17, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    2012 Sacramento Kings Media Day 2012 Sacramento Kings Media Day

    Brooklyn needs someone behind Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee

  6. Nuggets J.J. Hickson suspended five games for violation of NBA drug policy

    Sep 17, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Utah Jazz Getty Images

    Five games is the standard marijuana suspension, and you have to test positive three separate times to earn it.

  7. Brandon Jennings says he added 25 pounds for this season

    Sep 17, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT

    Brandon Jennings AP

    Jennings only shot 52 percent around the rim last year, maybe the muscle helps. Maybe.

  8. Chris Bosh was guest DJ on “Ellen”

    Sep 17, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh Chris Bosh

    Chris Bosh is taller than Ellen DeGeneres, which leads to much humor. I guess.

  9. Mike Miller knows in Cleveland his role will shrink. He’s good with that.

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:59 PM EDT

    Mike Miller Mike Miller

    His veteran, playoff-tested presence will be big on this team.

  10. Timberwolves to open camp with Andrew Wiggins vs. Zach LaVine dunk contest

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:19 PM EDT

    Andrew Wiggins AP

    This is all we want to see out of the Timberwolves anyway.

  11. Tim Hardaway Jr. focuses on defensive improvement for Knicks

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT

    Tim Hardaway Jr AP

    There’s a lot of room for improvement, let’s just say.

  12. LeBron James on Kyrie Irving: “I believe Kyrie can be the best point guard in the league.”

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup - Day Fourteen Getty Images

    Kyrie is going to have to adjust to a different role on the Cavs, but if he does watch out.

  13. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Boston Celtics

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo

    Rajon Rondo looms over everything – on and off the court

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (3084)
  2. L. James (2433)
  3. K. Irving (2307)
  4. D. Ferry (2211)
  5. J. Valanciunas (2177)
  1. K. Bryant (2089)
  2. R. Rondo (1810)
  3. N. Batum (1770)
  4. R. Gay (1756)
  5. P. George (1732)