In this article…
Performing October 17th, 2013
During the 1st half of last night's 105-94 game 1 loss, the Heat were clearly the better team. However, the Thunder had done a good job weathering the storm and not letting Miami open up an insurmountable lead. The seven-point halftime deficit had to be perceived as a victory for the Thunder with how well the Heat played. The 2nd half was entirely different story as the Thunder outscored Miami by eight in the 3rd and by 10 in the fourth.
Kevin Durant shined in the 4th quarter, which is something Heat fans are still waiting to see from their superstar, LeBron James. Durant had an historic night, scoring the most points (36) in an NBA Finals debut. 17 of them came in the fourth quarter on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. Russell Westbrook nearly triple doubled in his historic NBA finals debut, scoring 27 points, on 10-of-24 shooting. He also grabbed 8 boards and dished out 11 assists to complete his impressive line. The third piece to their big 3, James Harden, played only the last 2:30 of the fourth quarter for OKC. With Durant and Westbrook taking over in the 4th quarter, Scott Brooks decided to leave Harden on the bench and it turned out to all work out in the end for the Thunder.
Now, this brings us to the most intriguing story in this series. LeBron James is now 2-9 in NBA Finals for his career. Kevin Durant showed the basketball world in the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio, and last night, that he possesses a clutch gene down the stretch of big games. LeBron has done a lot of superhuman things on the basketball court in fourth quarters, but he has yet to do it in the Finals. James, despite finishing with 30 points and 8 rebounds, looked tentative at times in the fourth, turning the ball over twice and passing up shots he normally takes. You can tell his crunch time apprehensiveness from last year's Finals against Dallas carried over into last night's loss in Oklahoma City. James shot 9-of-18 from the field in the first 3 quarters, but only shot 2-of-6 in the 4th quarter when the Heat desperately needed an offensive boost. Wade and Bosh struggled with their jump shots for most of the night, and that's where LeBron could have made a huge impact.
James will continue to be the x-factor for Miami going forward in this series and he'll certainly have his opportunities to shine. The question everyone has on their mind is, can LeBron James deliver down the stretch of an NBA Finals game? We will find out over the coming days if he can put all of his 4th quarter woes behind him and win his first ever NBA Championship.