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Thunder vs. Heat

Game 3 Preview

NBA Finals Betting Update

6/17/12

Now we have a series.  That's what all the talking heads will say after the road team broke through with a win heading into Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday.  The fact of the matter is the Miami Heat evened the NBA Finals at 1-1 on Thursday with a much different strategy that will be very difficult to maintain over a seven-game series.  All five starters for the Heat (-4, O/U 194) played more than 39 minutes in a 100-96 victory in Game 2 at Oklahoma City with the series shifting to South Beach for the next three games.

The Thunder fell behind 18-2 in the first quarter and had a difficult time mounting a similar rally to Game 1 when they saw stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook outscore the entire Heat team 41-40 in the second half of a 105-94 win.  Durant and Westbrook were spectacular again at times in Game 2 with a combined 59 points, but they did not shoot the ball particularly well from the field or the free-throw line.  The Oklahoma City duo missed four free throws between them (going 9-for-13) -- which ended up being the final margin -- while Miami star LeBron James was a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe.

James finished with a team-high 32 points and has totaled 30 or more in eight of the last nine games.  But he also got help from teammates Dwyane Wade (24) and Chris Bosh (16), who started for the first time since Game 1 against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.  Bosh grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds as well, which is the same amount as the Thunder's entire frontcourt.

Oklahoma City played similarly to Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals when they lost 120-111 to the San Antonio Spurs, with Durant, Westbrook and James Harden doing virtually all of the scoring.  The trio scored 80 of the team's 96 points in Game 2 of the NBA Finals and must get more help from their teammates if they are going to win this series.  Starters Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka scored a total of 14 points on 6 of 15 shooting and need to perform much better than that in Game 3 if they are going to reclaim the series lead for their team.

The Heat did not play perfectly in Game 2 either, letting the Thunder battle back again for the second time in a row.  Starting Bosh certainly helped, but the heavy minutes for all of their starters, including Shane Battier, does not bode well over a long series against a team with more depth.  Losing Game 3 could put tremendous pressure back on Miami, especially at home, and make all the so-called basketball experts change their minds on who will be crowned NBA champions yet again.

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