Posts Tagged ‘okc’

Westbrook scores 43 but Miami go 3-1 up.

   Russell Westbrook put in a monster performance finishing with 43 points. Just like Rajon Rondo’s perfomance, it was not enough. Heat go up 3-1.

Russell Westbrook - 2012 NBA Finals - Game ThreeRussell Westbrook’s performance was very similar to that of Rajon Rondo’s during the Eastern Conference Finals, however, the result was the same. Miami finish with the win and go 3-1 up in the finals. This was the closest and most fast paced game of the finals so far. If you don’t enjoy watching basketball after that game, you should be watching Golf. There are, yet again, far too many talking points to cover, therefore this post will cover some of the key aspects that I thought decided the game.

 Russell Westbrook
As soon as Westbrook shot his first jumper of the game, I along with most Oklahoma fans screamed “no!” at the television. He has dribbled the ball up the court and shot within a few seconds without passing. This is exactly the type of play that did not fall for him in recent games and what drew plenty of criticism from viewers everywhere. The shot was good. As were his next 3. He in fact had 10 1st quarter points and was the main reason why Oklahoma had their first 1st quarter lead all series. Westbrook ended on 20-32 shooting, an incredible way to answer the critics. Unfortunately, Oklahoma could not defend Lebron James and James Harden had a terrible game.  Make no mistake, without Westbrook putting in the performance he did, Game 4 would have been over by half time. It is just a huge shame that Westbrook did not realise the shot clock was only at 5 seconds during the final play. His intentional foul on Chalmers was due to the fact that he thought there were 24 seconds on the shot clock.

Lebron JamesLeBron James - 2012 NBA Finals - Game Four
James finished with 26 points and 12 assists. He abused the post all night long   making Harden and Sefolosha look foolish more often than not. As a counter, Oklahoma had no option but to double team him. With Battier, Chalmers, Cole and  Jones all on the floor at times for the Heat, their 3’s began raining down, mostly in the  2nd quarter. Miami had 18 points from the arc alone in the 2nd quarter. This quickly  obliterated Oklahoma’s early lead and gave them a lot to think about through halftime.  Mainly, “How the hell to we guard Lebron?” Lebron then was screaming on the  sideline due to an intense cramp in the 4th quarter and missed the last minute of the  game. This was after he hobbled on to drain a 3 and put Miami up by 4. If Skip Bayless  tries to argue that he wasn’t clutch, ignore him. That said, Lebron seemed to be trying  to act like Jordan when he played with the flu.

James Harden

Harden finished with 8 points and 2 assists. He also seemed very scared of Miami. He missed 3 wide open 3’s and went 1-5 from downtown. He also shot a shocking 2-10 from the field, including one wide open from the elbow towards the end of the 4th. He had 3/4 seconds of being wide open and hesitated far too long before finally throwing up the brick. His dreadful performance was epitomised by the wide open layup he missed in the 4th. This would have given the Thunder their first lead in 22 minutes and could have changed the entire game. I was perplexed as to why Harden was man marking James late on. Harden does not have the physical capability to defend a player like James. Harden is yet to play to his potential. If Oklahoma are to steal a win in Game 5, Harden will need to achieve his regular season averages.
James Harden - 2012 NBA Finals - Game Three

The Officials
     After a lifetime of watching nothing but football (soccer for you Americans), I grow tired of complaining about referees. However, the Miami Heat seem to get every 50-50 call go their way, including some blatant bad calls. To name a few from Game 4:

  • The double-dribble missed on Lebron James in 2nd that led to a James layup.
  • Loose-ball foul not called on Derek Fisher off a rebound in the 4th. The ball fell to Chalmers who buried a 3.
  • Many fouls (seemingly) not called on Westbrook or Durant throughout the game.

I honestly hate to use the officials as a way of complaining but even my twitter feed was filling up with people that were bemused with some of the calls. What is your take on it? Am I wrong? Are Miami getting an unfair advantage from the officials?


Mario Chalmers

Chalmers has been due a good game. Wade spoke highly of him during his post game interview (why wouldn’t he?) after he played a huge role in the Game 4 win. He ended with 25 points off an efficient 9-15 night of shooting. He made a tough layup in traffic the possession after Lebron was carried off due to cramp and then sank a couple of clutch free throws a few possessions later, maintaining the lead Miami had. Chalmers was the deciding factor. The unpredictable deciding factor. Game 1 had the support players of OKC step up. Game 2 had shane Battier. Game 3 had Oklahoma’s rare low free throw percentage. Game 4 had Mario Chalmers go off for 25 points.

Did any of you predict any of these things? This series is impossible to call, still. Ibaka could go 11-11 from the field in Game 5, it’s been that kind of series. The unpredictable nature is making it one of the best series I have ever watched. Either team could have won by a sweep already. It’s times like this that you wish it was a best of 13.

Who will win the 2012 NBA Finals?

Miami win Game 2, just.

     An article written after the game was titled, “Miami tie the series, barely”. I wrote in my previous two blogs about how Miami would have to be almost perfect in order the beat Oklahoma. They had to play to their fullest potential. This is exactly what happened and it was only just good enough against a less-than good Oklahoma side. Erik Spoelstra said in his pre-game speech “every play matters, the game will come down to 5 plays.” He was right. If Fisher would have made that wide open 3, if Westbrook drained any of the missed jumpers he put up in the 1st, if OKC missed two less free throws…
It’s very easy to look at each individual play, especially when games often finish with a points difference of under 7 or 8 points. However, this is a 48 minute sport, and for 36 of those, Miami were much better. We know that OKC like to stay within striking distance before taking over in the 4th, they were just too late in reaching their “striking distance”.
Miami went up 18-2.
18-2.
They were much more fired up than Oklahoma. Everything that needed to happen for the Heat to win, happened.
Lebron had another fantastic shooting night, finishing on 32 and making 4 clutch points at the end of the game. Wade stepped up 24 points and Bosh finished with 16. 72 points all together, 5 more than their regular season average of 67. This was not where they won the game as Durant, Westbrook and Harden finished collectively with 80. The big three will consistently cancel each other out. Harden stepped up in game 2 just as Wade and Bosh did. No, Miami did not win because of the shooting from their big three, they won because of two more important reasons:

1) Shane Battier’s 17 points. 
Battier has suddenly become the best 3 point shooter in all the land. He is 10-13 from 3 pointers in the Finals so far with no signs of letting up. It makes me worry about the IQ of some basketball players. To consistently leave Battier open from 3, do they even learn? Battier stepped up as the “supporting player” in Game 2 like Collison and Sefolosha did in Game 1 for Oklahoma. His 17 points were the difference. Although you have to think, will he keep shooting about 75% from 3’s for the rest of the finals? Probably not. Which means Chalmers or Haslem have to step up and score more than 3 or 2 points respectively as they did in Game 2.

2) OKC’s fast-break points – 7
They had 24 fast-break points in Game 1 as they found it very easy to abuse the defensive slack of Wade and Chalmers. The 7 fast-break points they had in Game 2 was not only far less than the 24 in Game 1, but they all came in the 4th quarter. They caused 5 turnovers, had 8 more shots and out-rebounded Miami….only in the 4th quarter.

Durant said it perfectly in his post game interview, “we can’t get too down [about the missed shots in the 1st] instead stay positive and understand what can be changed for Game 3.”

That is exactly what they must do. Understand what needs to be changed, because there isn’t much. Miami had to break their backs to get the Game 2 win and they were playing against an OKC side that didn’t show up for the whole of the first 12 minutes.

Let’s not forget the game-tying shot Durant had where he was clearly fouled by Lebron.

That said, Miami did deserve to win Game 2 but it took them far more effort than I thought it would.

My friend told me he thinks OKC will find it difficult to beat Miami at their home arena since they are so efficient at home. However, if Miami can beat OKC in Oklahoma, then OKC can certainly beat Miami in South Beach, especially with their 21-12 record on the road.