Jun 12, 2012; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) brings the ball up court defended by Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (15) during the third quarter of game one in the 2012 NBA Finals at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat: NBA Finals Game 2 Preview

The Oklahoma City Thunder erased a 13-point first half and 7-point halftime deficit in Game 1 of the NBA Finals to come back and beat the Miami Heat 105-94.

The Thunder won what was an extremely important game for them. Being in their first NBA Finals you expected them to come out and maybe not play their best with all of the excitement.

That’s kind of what happened with the Heat getting out to an early lead too.

In the second half the Thunder really got their act together led by their two stars: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

Let’s start with…

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Kevin Durant

All eyes in the NBA Finals are going to be on Kevin Durant and LeBron James. In Game 1, Durant got the best of LeBron as the Thunder win.

Durant guarded LeBron for most of the first three quarters and did a nice job on him.

Durant carried the Thunder on offense to start the game and then finished strong for them with 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Durant went 12-for-20 in the game and got his points pretty easily. LeBron didn’t guard him much in the game either which may have contributed to that some.

The Thunder needed that kind of game from Durant to win Game 1 and they will hope for him to get more help the rest of the series.

Durant does not need to make a lot of adjustments for Game 2. It would be nice if he could continue shooting the ball this well.

Durant can expect better defense from the Heat in Game 2 and expect more pressure. He turned the ball over only twice in Game 1 and will need to keep that number low if the Thunder are going to keep winning games.

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

LeBron James

LeBron wasn’t bad in Game 1 for Miami scoring 30 points to go with nine rebounds and four assists. Durant was just better.

While Durant scored 17 in the fourth, LeBron only scored seven points.

LeBron is going to have to outplay Durant by a significant margin for the Heat to ever beat the Thunder. That’s going to start with LeBron defending Durant more in Game 2.

LeBron started out defending Kendrick Perkins in Game 1 with Shane Battier matched up with Durant. The Heat need LeBron to do a lot of things for them on defense but it looks like now the most important thing will be guarding Durant more.

LeBron was very disruptive against the Thunder pick-and-rolls in Game 1 and if he is guarding Durant more in Game 2, the Heat will sacrifice that defense some.

This should open up more for Russell Westbrook and James Harden to attack and the Thunder need to be ready to take advantage of it.

Offensively, LeBron will simply need to continue scoring 30 or more every game. He is capable of it but it will be interesting to see if defending Durant more tires him out any on the offensive end.

LeBron shot nine free throws in Game 1 so the aggressiveness was there somewhat. He still appears to only attack when he has a definitive advantage and never forces things which is good in some ways but it often feels like he should try and force more.

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Russell Westbrook

Westbrook was maybe the biggest reason why the Thunder won Game 1. Durant was great but the help he got from Westbrook was more important.

Westbrook scored 27 points with 18 coming in the second half after he got out to a slow shooting start. Westbrook also dished out 11 assists which is a fantastic number for him.

If Westbrook can keep putting up better numbers than Wade then the Thunder should keep winning. He looked very confident in the second half and needs to carry that over to Game 2.

Dwyane Wade

Wade needs to give the Heat a lot more to beat the Thunder. He scored just 19 points in Game 1 on 19 shots. That wasn’t even close to enough.

LeBron has said that he knows Wade still has some great games left in him and the Heat could sure use one on the road for Game 2 tonight.

Wade didn’t get any easy buckets in Game 1 and shot a lot of jumpers instead. He should come out more in attack mode for Game 2 and if he is getting calls, it will be huge for Miami.


James Harden

Harden only scored five points in Game 1 and it kind of went unnoticed because the Thunder still won. He’s definitely going to need more than five for the Thunder to keep winning games in this series.

There wasn’t a lot for Harden to work with in the pick-and-rolls in Game 1 and he will need to adjust his plan of attack tonight. The Heat try and take the ball out of Harden’s hands in the pick-and-roll and it worked well in Game 1.

Harden needs to try and attack earlier in the shot clock and in transition to get going in this series. Harden got off to a similar slow start in the Spurs series and adjusted fine after Game 1. He should do the same against the Heat.

Chris Bosh

Bosh didn’t start Game 1 and played 34 minutes and scored 10 points to go with five boards. It wasn’t nearly enough for the Heat to win.

It is still uncertain whether he will start Game 2 or not but either way he needs to make a much larger impact if the Heat are going to win.

Bosh seems to only give the Heat spot-up shooting right now and he needs to find other ways to score and be effective.

His real value needs to come on defense. The Thunder scored 56 points in the paint in Game 1 and with Joel Anthony getting little run, Bosh is the only real rim protector for the Heat and needs to do a better job tonight.


The Bigs

The Thunder still have a big advantage in this department in the series even though they didn’t take advantage too much of it in Game 1.

The Thunder had 10 offensive rebounds in Game 1 but are capable of much more with the Heat playing so many small lineups.

Nick Collison had a great first game with eight points and 10 rebounds (five offensive) and the more minutes he gets, the better for OKC.

Perkins does not seem to have much effect against the Heat because he struggles against the pick-and-roll on defense and it allowed for a lot of open threes for Miami.

Serge Ibaka didn’t block a shot for the first time in 45 games for the Thunder. He played well on offense though attacking the rim especially and scored 10 points.

Other than Bosh, Haslem was the only real big to play for Miami and didn’t do much. If somehow he can have a solid night, the Thunder could be in trouble because they should dominate these positions.


Spot-up shooters

Miami started out Game 1 great with the production of their spot-up shooters. Battier in particular made his first three 3-pointers in the game and finished with four on the night and 17 points.

The Thunder struggled with Perkins on the floor to get out on Miami’s shooters. The Heat did a nice job too of finding them in semi-transition opportunities after Thunder misses.

Derek Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha stepped up nicely for the Thunder when they needed them. They combined for 15 points.

Sefolosha was key on defense guarding LeBron for most of the fourth and containing him nicely. It will be interesting to see if Sefolosha guards LeBron more tonight.

The Thunder always feel like they’re better with Sefolosha closing out games which will be the case if he guards LeBron in the fourth again.

The best Thunder lineup is usually Westbrook-Harden-Thabo-Durant-Ibaka/Collison. They will get the chance to play this lineup a lot with the Heat going small so much.


Before the series started, I predicted the Thunder would win the first two games with Game 1 being the toughest. They overcame a halftime deficit to win that one and I think they have an easier time winning tonight.

At home, it’s always hard to imagine the Thunder losing especially because they have been able to come back so many times.

They have blown out a team at least once in each series this year in the playoffs and I think Game 2 could be one of those games for them.

This game is so important too because all the Heat really have to do is win once on the road to get home court advantage and with the next three games being in Miami, the Thunder can’t afford to lose any momentum.

Players other than Durant will need to play well for the Thunder to win and I think they will. We shouldn’t see another slow start for the Thunder and expect a better performance from Harden and the bigs offensive rebounding.

Miami’s best chances will be 40-plus point nights from either LeBron or Wade. It could happen but it seems less likely than the Thunder playing a more complete game.

Even with a win tonight and going up 2-0, the Thunder’s work will be far from over.

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Tags: Chris Bosh Derek Fisher Dwyane Wade Game 2 James Harden Kendrick Perkins Kevin Durant LeBron James Miami Heat NBA Finals NBA Playoffs Nick Collison Oklahoma City Thunder Russell Westbrook Serge Ibaka Shane Battier Thabo Sefolosha Udonis Haslem

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