***For the first time since the second round the Heat have won a game in which LeBron did not drop 30. However, his 29 did account for nearly a third of Miami’s 91 points, so that’s a little misleading. Although he had a sub-par night from the floor (11-23), LeBron set a certain tone early with his assertiveness in the paint. He was a man possessed on the offensive boards, ripping rebounds and powering it back up amidst multiple OKC defenders. His first quarter, which consisted of 10 points and 5 rebounds, got Miami off to another excellent start.
***Dwyane Wade continues to have his moments, but will he ever get his sh!t together on a consistent basis? Although LeBron is playing so damn well that it may not matter, the Heat could do without one of their $20 million players turning the ball over like it’s a hot potato. Seriously though, D-Wade has been awfully careless with the rock lately. He turned it over five times last night, including the play where he was ripped by Thabo Sefolosha late in the fourth quarter. That one was particularly disturbing not only because of when it happened (or the fact that it has now happened in two straight games), but because of how it happened. F@cking Thabo had already deflected the ball just after Wade put it on the floor… so what does Dwyane do? He allows him to poke it free again. I know Thabo is a fantastic defender, but in that situation there’s really no excuse to be near-ripped, then ripped. If you can’t stand the heat get the hell out the damn kitchen.
***Turnovers reared their ugly head at Oklahoma City, too. Although the Thunder wrapped it up with just 11 giveaways, they committed a couple of unforced errors in the last few minutes that proved rather costly. Both teams looked a tad bit discombobulated throughout the game, but miscommunications were especially prevalent with the Thunder as their youth shone through in the form of arrant passes and confused cuts. Although I failed to take note, I’m pretty sure LeBron’s defense on Kevin Durant, who managed just four points in the fourth, probably played a role in all of this.
***Derek Fisher actually became Oklahoma City’s primary offensive weapon during a five-minute period of time that was the end of the third quarter. At one point he attempted to take LeBron James off the dribble. I’m not sure who this debacle says most about—Derek Fisher (who took some ill-advised shots), James Harden (who was a non-factor), or Scott Brooks (who made it happen)—but I can tell you that it resulted in the disappearance of a six-point lead (to be fair, Russell Westbrook kind of kick started the 18-7 Miami run with four bad possessions in a row).
***Shane freaking Battier, people. In a game where it seemed as if no one could toss a pebble into the Atlantic, this fool went 2-2 from three (and made all three of his free throws after being crushed by an excitable Serge Ibaka on a third attempt). Battier has now connected on 11 threes in the Finals alone. That’s one fewer than Kevin Durant and James Harden combined… and Battier has made his on 16 fewer attempts. I know he’s perpetually unguarded, but the man is shooting 73%, folks. If that’s tough to comprehend, try going 11-15 from NBA range in an empty gym. Let me know how you fare.
***Surprisingly, Kendrick Perkins wasn’t terrible yesterday. He was part of a frontcourt that surrendered too many offensive boards, but he corralled 12 rebounds of his own and even produced 10 points on 5 shots. Most importantly, he committed not a single moving screen (well, none that was seen by a ref, at least) or any other type of turnover. I can’t say that I recall him making any glaring mistakes that wouldn’t have gone down on the stat sheet. From a Thunder perspective, it’s kind of a shame that what figures to be Kendrick’s best effort has been wasted.
***I wanted to make a point of reiterating something said by Jeff Van Gundy. Late in the game, Chris Bosh made his share of “important non-scoring plays.” Bosh shot just 3-12, but he had 11 rebounds and a critical block that led to an OKC shot clock violation at the 6:48 mark. He did make a pair of big free throws that gave Miami a three-point lead with just over a minute to go, too.
***Erik Spoelstra, Defensive Player of the Year.
***Free throws—the Thunder missed seven in a game decided by six points. The Heat, on the other hand, made 31 of 35. You can rant about the officiating until you’re blue in the face, but Joey Crawford didn’t put Miami’s free throws in for them. I don’t think he talked James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Nick Collison into bricking a pair a piece, either.
***Dwyane Wade couldn’t find a pocket square to match his mango-colored finger sleeve… so he stuffed a place mat in his pocket instead.
***Did you happen to notice that this post doesn’t contain a single link to a highlight? Take it as an indication of the defense played by both teams. Miami won the game despite shooting 37.8% from the floor, and OKC had plenty of chances to win it even though they clunked a bunch of free throws whilst shooting just 43% themselves.