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Heat vs. Thunder
Game 2 Preview
Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals played out as many expected, at least those who thought the Oklahoma City Thunder would be able to take advantage of a tired Miami Heat team off a grueling seven-game series with the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. Of course there were also some who figured the Thunder (-5.5, O/U 196) might be too rusty against the Heat due to a long layoff of nearly a week since they disposed of the San Antonio Spurs in six games in the Western Conference Finals.
Surprisingly, Oklahoma City's 105-94 win in Game 1 looked a lot like the team's Game 6 clincher against the Spurs, with the road team jumping out to a big halftime lead only to run out of gas in the end. It certainly helped that Thunder stars Kevin Durant (game-high 36 points) and Russell Westbrook (27 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds) saved their best for the second half when they outscored the entire Miami team by a 41-40 margin. But will they be able to repeat their performances in Game 2 on Thursday?
LeBron James had a great game in defeat for Miami with 30 points and nine rebounds, but he again failed to rise to the occasion in the fourth quarter when his team needed him the most, scoring just seven in the final 12 minutes compared to 17 for Durant. Teammate Dwyane Wade continued his shooting woes as well, making 7 of 19 from the field and finishing with 19 points. While James has totaled 30 points or more 12 times in the playoffs, including four straight and nine of the last 11, Wade has hit that mark just twice.
The Heat got solid production from their role players in Game 1, with Shane Battier scoring 17 and Mario Chalmers adding 11, and the duo combined for six of the team's eight 3-pointers. However, Chris Bosh clearly belongs in the starting lineup and needs to be more of a factor for Miami to win the championship. Without Bosh taking on a bigger role in the offense, James will continue to take on too much of a burden.
Keep in mind, James must also defend Durant, who might be the toughest player to guard in the league. Working so hard on both ends of the court could eventually take a toll on James if he does not get enough help. Miami will no doubt make adjustments in Game 2, but they must include getting the other two members of the "Big Three" more involved to avoid going home for three games without a victory.
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