Miami’s New Big Three


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   The Miami Heat clinched what is very possibly the dagger in the Thunder’s chances at winning the championship. There has never been a team that has recovered from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, ever. The big story for this game, in addition to Miami’s win is the newest member of their “Big Three”, is Mario Chalmers. Chalmers has averaged 10.7 points per game in the postseason but in game four he scored an impressive 25 points. He shot 9-15 from field, with 2 rebounds, and 3 assists. Mario Chalmers was key late in the fourth when LeBron James’ cramps kept him benched the last minute of the game.

During the pre-game as usual Michael Wilbon, Ervin “Magic” Johnson, Jon Barry, and Chris Broussard were breaking down the keys to game 4. Kevin Durant’s fourth quarter play was seen as a key. In game three he only scored 4 points and during games one and two he had averaged 16.5 points. The commentators spoke about important factors being points in the paint and free throws. For the Thunder the most important thing for Magic Johnson was for Durant to stay away from foul trouble.

When the ball went into the air for the tip-off the Heat won possession and scored quickly. From the get go the Thunder came out with a high intensity lead by their starting point guard Russell Westbrook. They went on a 7-2 run in the start of the first quarter following the tip-off. The Heat struggled offensively after their first bucket. They went 0-4 from behind the three-point line. For the first three games of the Finals the Heat had the lead at the end of every first quarter. The Thunder ended that streak in game four coming out with a relentless and high energy. Ending the first quarter with a fourteen-point lead 33-19. The Thunder shot a high percentage of 62 in the first quarter.

The start of second quarter saw transfer of energy, with Durant on the bench, as the Heat went on an offensive tear. They began the quarter with a 0-10 run in the first minute and half. Norris Cole, the Heat’s bench point guard, scored 6 of the Heat’s 10 points during their early run. The second quarter also saw James stepping into the play-making role. This is something that James often does, there were some key plays were he dished it out to the three-point line where he found Mario Chalmers and James Jones. The Heat’s high offensive energy and the Thunder’s lower offensive energy allowed the heat to dwindle the Thunder’s large lead. The Heat ended the second quarter with a three-point deficit to the Thunder 49-46. The Thunder shot a much lower percentage of lower than 40%.

At half time, Westbrook had 18 points shooting 9-15 from the field, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and only one turnover. LeBron had 10 points shooting 5-10 from the field, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists (six of those ended with three-point shots). Durant had 12 points and was shooting a low 4-10 from the field. Wade had contributed ten points. To start the third quarter the Heat took their first lead since the start of the first. The third quarter, a large majority of it, was a back and forth game. There were nine lead changes in the third alone. Both teams had been able to keep their turnovers low for most of the game. By the end of third both teams had only committed six turnovers. During the third quarter the Heat started to take control of the game and gained their largest lead of the game, seven points. The Thunder was struggling from behind the three-point line only shooting 3-10. The Heat was leading in the rebound category with 28 to the Thunder’s 24 in the third. The Heat ended the third leading by four points 75-79.

Mid-way through the fourth quarter Westbrook had scored his 32nd point and finally headed to the free throw line. Westbrook was doing his best to keep the Thunder in the game. He went on to score 13 of the Thunder’s last points through the middle of the third. Shortly after James went down due to cramps and came out of the game for a bit. When James went to the bench he already had 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 12 assists. The Thunder went on an 11-2 run while LeBron was on the bench. However, when James returned to the floor the Heat went on a 0-7 run. Late in the fourth with the game close James came out for the last minute of the game. The Thunder was down by three and there was a jump ball and the Heat gained possession. Due to a misunderstanding Westbrook thought the shot clock had reset and made an ill-advised foul on Mario Chalmers. Chalmers made his two free throws, clinching the game for Miami. In the final seconds, Durant attempted a three but missed, Harden fouled Chalmers and he made two more free throws. Allowing the Heat to grab the victory and win the game 98-104.

During the post-game, the commentators spoke on how Chalmers was key in the second half. Jon Barry, one of the commentators, found it alarming how the Thunder had shot such a low three-point percentage saying, “They’ve got to get some threes to go down.” Michael Wilbon, another member of the commentators’ team, spoke on the Thunder’s intensity saying, “They never played with the same aggression they had in that first half lead. The ESPN on ABC post-game crew continued to discuss the Thunder. Next, they talked about Westbrook and Durant’s combined 71 points. But, said the rest of the team’s 27 points wasn’t enough to beat the Heat. In, Chalmers’ post-game interview he said, “I came out that time and told D. Wade find me”, when he was asked about LeBron’s cramps. In, Westbrook’s post-game interview, when he was asked how he felt about his 43 point game, he said, “They never played with the same aggression they had in that first half lead.” When Durant asked how disappointed he felt about tonight’s loss he said, “We gon’ to keep fighting. Take it one possession at a time.” In, James’ post-game interview he was asked how he felt on having a team victory he said, “It’s a big team win. We needed everyone’s effort and everyone came up and made a play.”

Before James’ post-game interview there was small segment featuring Stuart Scott and Stephen A. Smith. Scott asked Smith what he thought about the Heat’s resilience and Smith said, “The Oklahoma City Thunder is not ready.” Scott also asked Smith about Durant’s performance and Smith said, “He didn’t show up.” Now, with this third win for this Heat team history is on their side. In the third times a team has gotten a 3-1 series no team has comeback to win the series. If, the Thunder were to do this they would be the first in NBA history. It seems as if the Thunder is underprepared for this series. The Heat have face their fair share of criticism, especially LeBron James. The Thunder doesn’t seem to have the experience needed or the disappointment to give them the needed hunger. If the Heat wins this series maybe this is the defeat that will help to season the Thunder and help them compete better against the Heat. To find out in the Heat clinch this series in five or if the series goes to a game six tune in this Thursday, June 21st at 9:00pm ET on ABC for game five of the NBA Finals.

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Comments

  1. Good article, I agree that Chalmers stepped up and hopefully this was his “rondo” moment where he as a younger player can play at a higher level consistently and provide another option for the Miami Heat going forward. Chalmers shot 9-15 which was better then Durant’s 9-19 night because Durant only had 3 more points. The Miami Heat have the crowd(a quiet one but a crowd nonetheless) on their side, the momentum and history. The Thunder looked young in the fourth quarter with Westbrook as the exception. The Heat are closing in on their 2nd championship in franchise history with a win Thursday night. Follow @marcusfelton, Blog:basketballdialogue.wordpress.com

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