I would just like to say, I love the NBA Finals. This game was absolutely amazing to watch, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else with my time.
In the opening game of the 2012 NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder pulled out a 105-94 victory over the Miami Heat. It was a huge day for the city of Oklahoma City, which was hosting its first professional sports final.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook came up huge in the second half, outscoring the Heat by 18 points. Westbrook and Durant combined for 63 points on 50% shooting.
For the Heat, LeBron James was the one of their “Big 3” to play well. He scored 30 points, while Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh only contributed 19 and 10 points, respectively.
Early in the game, the Heat got out to a sizable lead when Shane Battier made his first four 3-point attempts. Mario Chalmers also produced for Miami with 12 points on 7 shots, to go along with 6 assists.
The Finals continue next Thursday back in Oklahoma City. Durant and Westbrook will try and lead their team to a 2-0 and control of the championship series.
Kevin Durant- A+ 36pts/8reb/4ast/1blk
For his first Finals game, Kevin Durant didn’t show any sign of being nervous. With a game high 36 points, he led the Thunder to victory. Early on, Durant helped keep the team in the game while Westbrook was struggling to find his rhythm. A couple huge dunks and 3-pointers by KD got the crowd going as the Thunder extended the lead in the fourth, finally clinching the victory with just over a minute to go. A shooting performance like this will make it hard for the OKC offense to be stopped.
Russell Westbrook- A 27pts/8reb/11ast/1stl
Off to a rocky start, Westbrook found caught his stride in the second half. It looked like last year’s Russell Westbrook was going to show up, taking shots from Durant and all that narrative goodness. Unfortunately for the Heat, Russ drove to the lane with grace and power to get back to 41.6% shooting after a 2-9 start. What was most surprising was his passing tonight. Russ found his teammates often for open looks, leading to 11 assists.
James Harden- D 5pts/0reb/3ast
Fear the Beard was nowhere near present in Game 1. Harden was pretty much invisible throughout the game, partially due to him sitting out most of the second half after picking up four fouls. It also looked like he was very nervous about playing the Finals. His decision making was not the best, which caused him to be very ineffective. On the bright side, the Thunder won while James Harden played his worst game of the playoffs.
Kendrick Perkins- C+ 4pts/7reb/0ast/1blk
The Miami Heat lack a strong post presence, so Kendrick Perkins was never going to be all that effective in this series. All we can ask of him is to rough up some of the Heat players and not mess anything up on offense. He made all two of his shots, and grabbed a few rebounds. Good Job, Perk.
Serge Ibaka- B- 10pts/6reb/1ast/1stl
Similarly to Perkins, Serge Ibaka didn’t have much responsibility on the defensive end, especially with Chris Bosh coming off the bench. The Heat took more jumpers than usual, so there wasn’t much opportunity for him to block any shots. On the offensive end, his ability to hit those outside shots spreads out the defense to make room for the guards to create. Pretty average game, overall, for another Thunder young gun.
Nick Collison- A 8pts/10reb/0ast/1stl
I absolutely love Nick Collison right now. He is playing so well, and doing everything he can to give the Thunder the best chance to win. Going into the fourth quarter, he had just seven minutes of playing time. Collison played the entire final period, and was the X-Factor for the Thunder. Tough defense and hustling are his trademarks, and it showed. Nick Collison was all over the court, batting back missed shots to give OKC extra possessions and playing very physically with LeBron James. It was a career performance on the biggest stage for the longest tenured member of the franchise.
Thabo Sefolosha- B+ 9pts/1reb/2ast/2stl
Foul trouble may not have been the only reason James Harden didn’t play that much tonight. Thabo Sefolosha was a beast on the defensive side of the ball. Stats cannot define how effective Thabo was in holding down the Heat stars. His aggressiveness led to many of the 24 fast break points. I loved how Thabo played, and hope he continues to limit the Heat to tough baskets.
Derek Fisher- C 6pts/3reb/1ast
Derek Fisher confuses me. Sometimes he performs acts of brilliance, like it was 2004 again. Then again, there are times where he takes terrible shots or turns it over. In the end, he gives the Thunder some experienced minutes as another ball handler.