Thunder Rally Past Heat, Win Game 1 Of NBA Finals
The young Oklahoma City Thunder seemed to be a little tight early on in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the biggest stage providing them with nerves. However, once they settled in, the Thunder rallied back from 13 down to dominate the Miami Heat in the second half, winning Game 1 by the score of 105-94.
Kevin Durant was fantastic, scoring 17 of his 36 points in the 4th quarter. Durant's monster dunk with 3 minutes left in the first half seemed to get his team going.
"It's a team game," said Durant, "We stuck together. We have to continue to do that moving forward."
After trailing by 7 at halftime, OKC outscored Miami by 18 in the second half, continuing to use great ball movement behind point guard Russell Westbrook's tremendous play.
Westbrook's stat line of 27 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, and only 2 turnovers is impressive for the 23 year old's first NBA Finals. Like his teammates, it took Russell a little while to get going.
"We started out slow, then got our jitters out of the way," said Westbrook. "As long as we get the win, that's all that matters. We'll be ready to go for Game 2."
OKC won the game without a big contribution from 6th Man of the Year James Harden. He only scored 5 points. However, the OKC bench got a big game from Nick Collison. The 7 year pro out of Kansas, making his NBA Finals debut, was relentless on the glass, finishing with 10 rebounds in 21 minutes of play. He was 4-5 from the field for 8 points.
"He's a great teammate to have," said Durant of Collison. "He's (always) going to come down and give it his all on the defensive end."
Miami jumped out to an early lead, using great ball movement. Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier had a combined 23 points in the first two quarters. They combined for only 6 in the second half. Chris Bosh came off the bench, scoring 10. In the second half, the Heat failed to continue to spread the floor, scoring 14 points less than they did in the first half.
LeBron James was the only member of the Heat who played solid from start to finish. Making his 3rd appearance in an NBA Finals, the King without a crown scored 30, grabbed 9 boads, assisted on 4 buckets, and swiped 4 steals. Dwyane Wade scored 19, but struggled on the defensive end of the floor.
James' defensive assignment to start the game was Thunder Center Kendrick Perkins, who is not a consistent offensive threat. After the game, James explained that it was Miami coach Erik Spoelstra's decision.
"It wasn't my choice, but it was good early on for us," said James of his early defensive assignment. "We had a good game plan to start the game. The third quarter it was hurt us."
With the win, the Thunder lead the best-of-seven series 1-0. Game 2 is in OKC Thursday night. Tip-off is set for 8:00.