Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant made it look easy. He led his team with 36 points to a 105-94 victory over a Heat team that stalled in the latter stages of Game 1. Like a number of their wins earlier in these Playoffs, they played from behind until their surge in the second half proved too much for Lebron James and Co.
The fireworks-filled Finals resumes on Friday where the Heat try to figure out how to slow the steamrollin' Thunder, wishing to return home for Games 3, 4 and 5 with a tied series. In the meantime, here's what all of us saw in Game 1. From the looks of it, this should be a wildly entertaining series.
Sure as hell doesn’t look like the Thunder’s first time in the Finals
The crowd was a mass of pure noise, and the air was electric. Where such an atmosphere will leave lesser teams stunned, OKC relished the moment, and grew bolder by the minute. Out the gates, they did stumble a little as the Heat built up a 13-point lead led by the hot hand of Shane Battier.
When the Thunder found their footing late into the second quarter, it was a different story. Everyone knew a comeback was coming, and it did. By the halftime break, the deficit had been cut to 7. By the end of the third period, OKC finally secured a 74-73 lead thanks in huge part to Russell Westbrook and his rage screams.
Miami never led again. The Thunder kept at it, never looking shaken, a rocky start notwithstanding.
Durant is calm and focused
In other words, deathly terrifying for the team opposing him. His final line: 36 points on 12-of-20 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Spectacular numbers. Yet these don't tell the entire story of this superstar who's quickly becoming number one in many best players list. The dude just let the game come to him. He showed great patience in spite of the early deficit, allowing his teammates to get into the rhythm of the game. Then when the fourth quarter arrived, he took over, and practically raped the Heat defense, James included.
What’s wrong with Wade
The Heat was practically force-feeding Wade the ball. Still, he only finished with 19 points on 7-out-of-19 shooting. They all know they need him. They need him to play like the Wade of old, the one that tore the heart out of Dallas in 2006 on his way to a Finals MVP and championship. Not this one, who at times looks increasingly unsure of himself. They'll need that extra firepower to hang with the Thunder.
To borrow from Gregg Popovich, here's our advice to Wade: Get nasty.
OKC's a jump shooting team. They live and die with it. Mostly, they live because they're so good at it. Miami became a jump shooting team in the game's latter parts. Or rather, Wade and James settled for jump shots far too much, they forgot their most lethal weapon: taking it to the hole. Wake up Miami; you're digging your own grave, engaging OKC in a shooting contest.
Game 2: What to expect
A Thunder team that explodes to an early lead, still carrying that momentum from Game 1. Zero smiles from Lebron James and Dwyane Wade who will attack the paint more aggressively. A Durant that will try to match those vengeful Heat stars shot for shot. And possibly, another Westbrook technical! Control your emotions, bro!