NBA FINALS: Miami needs to heat up for Game 2 clash with OKC Thunder

Posted: June 14, 2012 in NBA
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

So here we go, it’s time for the Miami Heat to put up or shut up.

Game 2 of the NBA Finals at Chesapeake Energy Arena now becomes the most pivotal game of the championship series for the two-time Eastern Conference champs. And even though they’re just 4-5 on the Playoff road, let’s keep in mind two of those wins were pivotal.

Sure, if they lose tonight, then win three straight at home, they will face another big Game 6. But the Heat don’t want to worry about that scenario. I’m sure they’d much rather try to steal this one.

Bad news for Heat fans, since moving to Oklahoma City entering the 2008-09 season, the Thunder are 3-0 in series when they win Game 1.

And how important is winning Game 1? Well, teams winning Game 1 of the NBA Finals have won the title 47 of 65 times (.723).

How do the Heat contend with the Thunder tonight?

Simple… put LeBron James on Kevin Durant, who scored 36 points in Oklahoma City’s Game 1 victory of the NBA Finals. Durant is the ninth player in NBA history to score at least 36 points in his NBA Finals debut. James is going to have to step up in this one, and not only put together an offensive show, but will have to stop Durant.

Durant exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of his game-high tally in the final 12 minutes. Durant’s 17 points in the final quarter are tied for the most fourth-quarter points in an NBA Finals game over the last 15 postseasons.

The Thunder outscored the Heat 58-40 in the final 24 minutes, as Durant and Russell Westbrook took over the game. Thus, I think the Heat are going to have to spread themselves out much more efficiently in this one, saving some of that oomph for the fourth quarter.

On offense, James scored 17 of his 30Β points on 58 percent shooting against Kevin Durant, but was held to seven points on 29 percent versus Thabo Sefolosha. He’s going to make some adjustments on both ends of the court.

Especially knowing Game 2 might be even more critical than Game 1. Only three teams in NBA history have overcome a 2-0 deficit in the NBA Finals: the 1968 Boston Celtics, 1977 Portland Trail Blazers and, looky here, the 2006 Heat.

The Heat are mired in ATS slides of 3-8 versus the Northwest Division, 0-4 in NBA Finals games and 0-8 as the underdog. On the flipside, the Thunder are on ATS streaks of 6-0 as the chalk, 5-0 at home and 22-7 against Eastern Conference teams.

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