Tuesday morning, some Oklahoma City fans gathered around the Chesapeake Energy Arena almost 12 hours before tip-off for the biggest sporting event in their cities history in game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals. Headlined by the marquee match-up in LeBron James and Kevin Durant, game 1 would be the first time since 1998 Finals in which the NBA MVP and the NBA scoring champion faced one another in the NBA Finals. Back in the Finals for the second year in a row and fresh from their seven game series against the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat were in town to face to 5-1 series favorite Oklahoma City Thunder. Showing no signs of fatigue, the Heat quickly jumped out a 10-2 lead led by forward Shane Battier who was a perfect 3-3 from beyond the arc in the first quarter. OKC would struggle in the first 5 minutes of the game hitting only one of their first six shots. Mario Chalmers would also contribute to the cause making two 3-pointers in the first quarter and a last minute jumper to put his team up by 9. In the last possession of the first quarter, James Harden would make a last second jumper to bring OKC to within 7. In the 2nd quarter by the 9 min. mark, Miami would go on an 8-2 run led by LBJ to take their biggest lead of the night at 13 with the crowd silent that they’re team might lose game 1. Down by 10 once again, Kevin Durant who was struggling in the quarter would come to rescue to bring his team back to single digits with a monstrous dunk over Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh. Down by 7 points heading at halftime, coach Scott Brooks and his staff would make some crucial adjustments before the start of the 3rd quarter including having Kevin Durant guard LeBron James every play in the 2nd half. Coming out of halftime OKC would hit 3 of their first 4 shots to set the tone for the 3rd quarter. LBJ would put the heat on his back with his signature 2 dribble sprint dunk from the 3 point line. Miami would go back up by 5 points, but on the next ensuing possessions Russell Westbrook would bring his team back scoring a big and1 layup to give OKC their first lead of the game at the quarters end. Visibly showing fatigue from Saturdays game 7 victory over Boston, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had LeBron playing free safety in the paint and guarded the OKC bigs for the better part of the 2nd half. With the momentum in their hand, Kevin Durant would use the undersized Battier to his advantage scoring 17 points in the 4th quarter becoming virtually unstoppable. Durant and Westbrook combined for 15 straight points in the fourth quarter and also outscored the Heat in the second half at 41 to 40. The OKC others contributed to 18 of the 58 points scored in the 2nd half winning game 1 of the Finals.
Kevin Durant finished as the player of the game scoring 36 points (12-20) 8 boards and 4 dimes while Russell Westbrook flirted with a triple double scoring 27 points, 11 dimes and 8 boards. The Thunder bench in Derek Fisher and Nick Collison were also big contributors to the game shooting a combined 7-10 to score 14 points. Durant’s game 1 performance put him in some elite category as he came became the 2nd youngest player in NBA Finals history to score 36 points putting him behind Kobe Bryant who did so against the New Jersey Nets in 2002. LeBron James finished with a Heat high of 30 points, 9 boards and 4 dimes; while Dwyane Wade played possibly his worst Finals game scoring 19 points, 8 dimes and 4 boards but shot a horrendous 7-19 from the field. Shane Battier had an above average night scoring 17 points shooting 4-6 from long distance, while Chris Bosh who never got in synch with the game only scored 10 points shooting 4-11. This win now improves the Thunder to a perfect 9-0 at home this postseason with their last loss at Chesapeake Energy occurring April 25th in a regular season finale against the Denver Nuggets. For OKC their game 2 game plan should be the same as game 1 in which they played so well, James Harden would only have to play two-minutes in the fourth coming in for veteran Derek Fisher who was a big contributor to the win. For Miami they have to go back to the chalk board and video tapes; but most importantly have LBJ guard Kevin Durant the 4th quarter if it’s a close game.
Game 2 is scheduled Thursday on ABC with a tip-off set for 9:00 pm (ET).
Win Or Go Home.
Thunder Lead 1-0
Game 1: Oklahoma City 105, Miami 94
Game 2: at OKC, Thu. June 14, 9 p.m., ABC
Game 3: at MIA, Sun. June 17, 8 p.m., ABC
Game 4: at MIA, Tue. June 19, 9 p.m., ABC
Game 5: at MIA, Thu. June 21, 9 p.m., ABC
Game 6: at OKC, Sun. June 24, 8 p.m., ABC
Game 7: at OKC, Tue. June 26, 9 p.m., ABC
Dunk Of The Night: Kevin Durant Dunk Over The Heat--