As most of you already know, the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Miami Heat in the first game of the NBA Finals. Cliff notes version of what happened: Miami raced out to a nice lead in the first half. Thunder made adjustments. Miami made zero adjustments. Kevin Durant took over. Thunder now leads the series 1 – 0.
Below is an in-depth analysis of the game based off real-time tweets of @TheBatteredFan. Not all thoughts may hold true upon a further third-party’s non-biased review, but it’s what I felt while watching the game – and what I tweeted. The tweets are in bold.
LeBron should go at Durant all game. Can’t let him rest on defense.
This came very early in the game when Lebron James drove at Durant and drew a quick foul on him. In previous series, the Thunder have allowed Durant to rest on the defensive end of the court by having him guard mediocre offensive players like Vince Carter, Metta World Peace, and Kawhi Leonard. The Heat can’t afford to let him do that. Miami tried to counter by starting a small lineup, forcing one of the Thunder’s big men to guard a wing player (Kendrick Perkins on Shane Battier). We all saw how that worked out – Battier’s three first quarter 3-pointers were a result of Perkins not being able to close out in space. This proved to be the first and only good move by the Heat staff all evening.
Over/Under for Perkin’s minutes? Line at 24…
I posted this after Battier hit his second wide-open 3-pointer midway through the opening quarter. At that point, it was clear the Thunder were going to have to go small themselves or risk giving up wide-open 3-pointers the rest of the evening. It’s simply unfair to ask a 300+ lbs behemoth like Perkins to guard a wing player 24-feet from the hoop. P.S. Perkins ended up playing 25 minutes. Send me to Vegas…
Joel Anthony should never step on the court in this series.
Anthony comes in, Ibaka goes off. Any correlation, Coach?
I’m sorry, but there is nothing Heat center Joel Anthony can bring to the table in this series. The Heat can get away with going small because Perkins and Serge Ibaka have zero post-game and can be easily guarded by a smaller, quicker defender. When Anthony came in the game late in the second quarter, Ibaka’s eye lit up like a pinball machine. In a two-minute stretch, Ibaka made three baskets (including a dunk and lay-up) and got the arena rocking again. Thank you for your two minutes Joel, now please go sit on the bench for the rest of the series.
Not sure if I agree with putting James (best perimeter defender in the league) on Perkins. Guess it makes sense to save energy for offense.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. While the Thunder was going with their two-big man lineups, James was guarding the offensive non-factor Perkins. I understand the Heat still believe Battier to be an elite defender, but he is by no means at James’ level. To waste James’ defensive abilities on the likes of Perkins when the Heat are facing the 3-time NBA scoring champion (who plays the same position as James) is head scratching. I guess the Heat feel this is what they must do when James’ teammates are letting him down on the other end of the court – rest him on defense.
Holy Shit. LeBron.
Late in the third, James finally attacked Durant again (like I called for very early in the game) and does what only he can do. Powerful.
Chalmers thinks he’s playing Euro Cup…
We now know how Heat point guard Mario Chalmers has been preparing for this series. Watching lots of soccer… But after an uncalled flop by Chalmers cost the Heat an unnecessary timeout in the second half, flop-legend and Thunder guard Derrick Fisher would not be outdone.
Westbrook will have a meltdown at some point in this series. Mark it down.
There is nothing more telling about a star player than when he misses a lay-up and his teammate puts the rebound back in. Good teammates will congratulate his teammate for picking up after him and scoring an important hoop. On the other hand, Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook doesn’t even acknowledge his teammates’ effort, instead argues the ‘missed’ call on his attempt all the way down the court- as if his two free throw attempts would be better than the already-made basket. Grow up, Russell. You’re in the NBA Finals.
If James were having the game Wade is, Twitter would explode…
I still don’t understand why Wade and Bosh get a free pass in all this while James consistently gets pummeled. Has anyone watched the Playoffs? Has anyone seen James’ numbers? They are simply ridiculous. If James put up Wade’s numbers over the course of a single game, nevertheless an entire series, I think the most biased analyst in the world – Skip Bayless – would explode with self-vindication. One can only hope…
Why isn’t Lebron on Durant!?!?
Oh, now you put James on Durant… nice quick decision on that one, Coach…
Weird, Battier back on him, Durant sets up easy two…
Scotty Brooks > Eric Spoelstra
It’s pretty safe to say that if you were only following The Battered Fan’s twitter feed, you could probably tell Durant was single-handedly taking over the fourth quarter. The Heat continuously sent Battier and Wade at him – all to no avail. Durant could essentially get any shot he wanted and he wasn’t missing. The only possession down the stretch in which James guarded Durant, James out-muscled Durant to the point where Durant couldn’t even receive an entry pass from Westbrook. Why didn’t the Heat stick with James on Durant?!? I think it all goes back to how bad Wade has been playing offensively, and the fact the third member of the ‘Big Three’, Chris Bosh, has morphed into a 6’ 10” version of Steve Kerr. Having never been the most physical player on the planet, Bosh’s physicality now mirrors that of an elderly Deion Sanders.
The result of this is that James must carry the extra burden on the offensive end, thus having to rest more on defense. Going forward, it won’t matter how much of the offensive burden James is able to carry if the Heat can’t slow Durant. The Heat need to guard Durant with James, and get the rest of the ‘Big Three’ to play like the stars they think they are. If Durant continues to eat up Battier and Wade for 35+ a game – and no one else steps up for the Heat on the offensive end of the court – this once-promising series could be over very, very quickly. I simply hope the Heat can make the necessary adjustments and turn this much-hyped series into the epic NBA Finals we’re all hoping for.
Goodnight Y’all. Can’t wait until Thursday. That’s that.