Friday, June 15, 2012

NBA Finals: The King, K.D. and the Quest for the Elusive Ring

NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Series tied, 1-1

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The 2012 NBA Finals has dwindled from a best of 7 series to a best of 5 with the Miami Heat having home-court advantage. The Heat stripped the Oklahoma City Thunder of home-court advantage by going on the road, stealing a game and returning home with a split. In other words, they did what they had to do.

In Game 1, OKC saw themselves trailing by 7 at halftime and at one point trailed by as many as 13 in the first half. But with a strong second half, where they outscored Miami by 18, the Thunder were able to prevail 105-94 and take a 1-0 lead in the series. It took a monster second half for OKC to win their first-ever finals' game under their new identity. As the Seattle SuperSonics they won a total of 9 finals' games in 3 trips, which included the 1978-79 NBA championship.

In Game 2, it was "deja vu all over again" for OKC.  Again they got off to a sluggish start but this time around it came back to haunt them. Miami lead wire-to-wire as they jumped to an early 18-2 lead, which OKC would never recover from. Miami led by as many as 17, putting OKC in catch-up mode all game long. The relentless OKC bunch were able to cut it to 2 late in the fourth quarter but Miami held their ground and escaped with a 100-96 win.

The eye-catching stat of Games 1 and 2 is the first quarter scoring. The combined score: Miami 56, OKC 37.

Today everyone is talking about a controversial NON-CALL late in the fourth quarter of Game 2 where it was clear that LeBron James fouled Kevin Durant  with Miami up by only 2 points. Durant missed the shot but clearly should have gone to the foul line for 2 free throws. But let's be real, that wasn't where OKC lost the game. First of all, there was no guarantee Durant would have made the free throws and tied the game. OKC was uncharacteristically missing crucial free throws late in the game, so it's impossible to say whether or not Durant would have made both free throws. This is just another attempt to put an asterisk on anything the Miami Heat do. What doomed OKC was their sluggish start. They got away with it in Game 1 but they should have known Miami was going to make the necessary adjustments for Game 2 if they saw themselves in a similar situation. In the NBA Finals you have to play hard for 48 minutes. Not take a vacation in the first half and expect to play like Superman in the second half. Sooner or later it'll come back to bite you.

If the Thunder think that they can go to South Beach and play 2 quarters of basketball, they'll be in for a rude awakening. If they don't play strong from start to finish this series is over in 5 games. And yes, the King will finally get his elusive ring.

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OKC will need monster performances from both Durant and Russell Westbrook down in the Valley of the Kings, from START TO FINISH-- or else!


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