The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Miami Heat 105-94 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals to jump out to a 1-0 series lead.
It was a crucial win for the Thunder. When the team with home court has won Game 1 of the NBA Finals, they have gone on to win the series .796 percent of the time.
Heading into the NBA Finals, many people thought that most of the pressure was on the Miami Heat. They may not have been the Vegas favorites but they made it to the Finals last year, are more experienced than the Thunder, and of course have LeBron James whom the pressure always seems to find.
But on the road for the first two games in a 2-3-2 format, the pressure wouldn’t normally be on the Heat if not for those other circumstances. They really need to just steal one of the first two games of the series on the road against a team that had never been to this kind of stage before.
If you can survive the first two games on the road and possible win one, getting three straight at home is a huge advantage. Not only do you have the chance to win three in a row but it can completely change the feel of a series and swing momentum back in your favor.
The pressure was really on the Thunder. They need to win the first two games of this series. Losing just one would be almost a death sentence having to then play in Miami for three straight games.
In the first few minutes and first half of Game 1, it looked like Miami might have been on their way to winning Game 1.
The Thunder came back though. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook outscored the entire Heat team in the second half and Durant finished the fourth with 17 on his own.
The Thunder basically overcame any stage fright they might have had playing in their first NBA Finals. Durant came out as cool as ever scoring the first eight points of the game for the Thunder including two 3-pointers and he also did a great job containing LeBron on defense.
The Thunder got exactly what they needed from their best player and they’re going to need it again tonight.
The Heat may not be the most consistent team in the NBA but they can bounce back from losses and have games where they look like the best team in the league.
The Heat have the luxury now of being able to adjust to a Game 1 loss. They didn’t do some things they should have and can swing the advantage to their side if they correct those things tonight.
Most notably, LeBron was not guarding Durant for much of the game. Erik Spoelstra used LeBron to do just about everything else on defense. LeBron started out on Kendrick Perkins and was involved a lot in defending OKC’s pick-and-rolls.
This may have taken a little pressure off Durant at certain points of the game, leading to him scoring 36 points relatively easily.
As things may get tougher with LeBron on Durant in Game 2, the rest of the Thunder players will need to step up.
This is another big test for this Thunder team. While taking a somewhat comfortable 1-0 series lead, can they muster up the same intensity necessary to win a very important Game 2 too?
The Thunder haven’t taken any games off all season, let alone in the playoffs. They will come out with the same hunger to win as they did in Game 1.
So the series hasn’t changed much at all yet for the Thunder. Not only was Game 1 a must-win for them but Game 2 is also. They haven’t accomplished anything yet and the important thing is that is how they feel too.