The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder arrived at Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals by different roads. But each team's trip was fueled by the talents of a core of superstars. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were united in South Beach by way of free-agent dealings and public courtships while the Thunder core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden's beard was constructed behind closed doors and on NBA Draft nights.
Despite origin stories as different as Superman and Spiderman, these two teams are set to open a superstar showdown in Game 1 in Oklahoma City.
2012 NBA FINALS
Oklahoma City Thunder
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
9:00 p.m. EST
June 12, 2012
The Thunder has yet to drop a game in front of its rapturous fans but the Heat have quieted its share of hostile crowds ever since "The Decision." Having been defeated by the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals last year, the South Beach Superfriends return with a been-there-(not)-won that focus that perhaps their opponents will be lacking. James, in particular, has played with an urgency that he has often been criticized for lacking in big moments.
Will LeBron deliver another dominant performance? Can Durant match him even if he does? Does anyone in a Heat uniform have the ability to stick with Westbrook? Is it Thabo Sefolosha or Shane Battier who will come up with the key stop? Which team's "Big 3" will come up largest?
STAY TUNED FOR LIVE UPDATES:
|@ nbastats : Kevin Durant's 17 4th quarter points shouldn't be surprising considering he led the NBA in 4th quarter scoring during the reg season #Finals|
Durant and Westbrook exploded during winning time and the Thunder outran the Heat. The disparity in fast break points (24-4) speaks to the relentlessness of the Thunder. That proved far more sustainable than the Heat's early three-point proficiency. The Thunder were able to hustle their way into easy baskets whereas the Heat became overly dependent on tough makes by LeBron and Wade in the second half.
|@ ESPNStatsInfo : Russell Westbrook is the 1st player with at least 25 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists in an NBA Finals game since Charles Barkley in 1993|
Phenomenal second-half effort at both ends to take Game 1, 105-94.
Mike Miller gets in the box score with a bucket and now the Heat are fouling. Durant his a pair.
After Wade turns it over for the Heat, Miami shows only mild interest in fouling. Durant gets away, across midcourt, finds Westbrook who drops it off to Collison for another dunk. 103-92.
The Heat have 44.5 second to make up a 9-point deficit. What's the play?
Westbrook keeps it after a screen (and roll) by Durant. His shot is the mark but Thabo is fouled grabbing the rebound. Battier with the foul. And Thabo at the line. Make.. make.
Timeout after Durant takes a foul from Battier. The game is under a minute at 53.4.
Durant finds Collison for a dunk after LeBron with another +1 play. The Heat had the answers to the Thunder questions in the first half. The hightop is on the other foot now.
But Westbrook responds as the clock ticks under two minutes.. it's OKC's to lose from here.
With the game slipping away, Wade drops in a tough bucket.
Thunder fans serenade Durant at the free-throw line, he hits a pair to push lead to 95-87.
|@ netw3rk : "Scott Brooks, not afraid to sit one of his big time players." - Mike Breen, secretly criticizing the Knicks again.|
With the Thunder threatening to run and hide with this one Wade hits a bucket. It's 93-85 in favor of OKC.
The Thunder are surging toward the finish line in Game 1
|@ HarveyAraton : since i picked Heat in 5, i will already admit that i may soon be subject to my son's mockery|
Thunder lead with 4:58 to play in the fourth. Most telling stat is fastbreak point edge, 22-4 in favor of OKC.
A Bosh bucket is bookended by inside and outside scores by Durant. Thunder lead stretches to 89-83. Durant may be getting more help than James but he's also outdueling him here.
James gets a bucket to drop in traffic, draws foul on Thabo to pull Heat within a bucket, 84-81. It'll be hard for Skip Bayless to blame him from this. Aside from briefly falling in love with the deep shot in the middle of the game, he's tried to play to his advantages.
Durant gets out on the break on a turnover, LeBron is with him but that chasedown block isn't going to work on a guy with length and strides like this. SLAM. 82-77 to OKC.
Durant dribbles, spins, pump fakes and rises over Wade for two. It's 80-74 to OKC with 9 to play.
Bosh takes a turn on the attack and drives into Collison, drawing a (phantom) foul. He hits 1 of 2. Spo seems to have mandated getting into the paint in the last timeout.
Out of the timeout, James takes ball into the paint against Thabo but can't get the shot to fall. Right idea, wrong result. Ball is batted out and stays at this end.
|@ RealSkipBayless : LeBron has to take Durant now, and he and DWade have to figure out how to make a shot - or this will get ugly for Miami.|