These NBA Finals have twisted the narrative and archetypes we thought we knew going in like a double helix. We thought the notions of what the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are were entangled deeply within them just like a strand of DNA. The pressure-cooker of these Finals has changed those so far. Miami has a 2-1 lead after the 91-85 win Sunday night at home, the first of its three there. Dwyane Wade (25 points, 7 and 7), Chris Bosh (10 points, 11 boards) and LeBron James (29 points, 14 boards) combined to score the final 15 points for Miami, which brought this thing back from the brink of a nine-point deficit. While most everyone was taking a second crack at how wide LBJ’s headband was, he was helping close the Game 3 door. They weren’t supposed to be able to do this “close” thing, but it’s two in a row. Meanwhile, OKC was that young, self-assured, smart-beyond-their-years bunch. Instead late they missed free throws (nine overall misses) and made a crucial turnover down four in the final seconds — a stretch begotten by the way they allowed Miami to come back all night. Talk to us earlier in the fourth, though, and it all could have been backward as the Thunder’s comeback was cooking with fire. Let’s make this series best of 11. … Miami got 10 buckets at the rim in the first quarter with just one jump shot. Oklahoma City’s defense is never in a top three of its talking points, but that was horrific interior defense. James Harden (9 points on 2-of-10 shooting) had a nightmare trying to defend James, unable to hold him as he cut from block to block. Thabo Sefolosha (6 points, a surprising -11 PER) didn’t have an answer to stop a 10-foot hop step in transition. Bottom line: 10 of his first 12 points were in the paint. Porous would have been a generous term for that defense. By the end of the first half the Heat were just 3-of-22 from outside the no-charge zone under the cup. … On the other hand, Kendrick “Scowl” Perkins had as many points (6 — he’d finish with 10 points, 12 boards) as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant (25 points) at the second quarter’s first ad break. … You guys also see Mike Miller (4 points in 7 minutes) block Durant’s shot, or was that just us? … Shane Battier isn’t just hitting the corner threes anymore; Battier is now calling for the rock coming off screens from 25 feet. We wouldn’t usually prescribe that but he’s unquestionably feeling it. He drilled a triple to tie the game with 22 seconds left in the first half after hitting his only other shot of the half a minute and a half earlier, also from three. … Jeff Van Gundy said Westbrook (19 points, 8-of-18 shots) reminds him of a young Steve Francis. Talk about awakening the echoes. But while JVG tried to change Francis’ attack-first mentality, he loves how Scott Brooks hasn’t done that with Westbrook. This is like the criticism of Rajon Rondo. He can’t shoot the jumper consistently, so he sucks, right? Freak athlete Westbrook doesn’t curb his shooting but that doesn’t mean he can’t recognize situations when he needs to switch it up and dish it out. He’s a work in progress, but what’s already there is more finished than almost any other point in the league. … Hit the jump to read about Sefolosha’s bizarre last seconds.
Smack / Jun 17, 2012 / 11:11 pm
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