Sports: NBA Finals: Thunder Take Game 1
There’s no doubt the Oklahoma City Thunder are more than ready for any eventuality in their quest for the Larry O’Brien Trophy of the National Basketball Association after Kevin Durant and company took Game 1 of the NBA Finals yesterday over Miami via a convincing 105-94 triumph.
Miami led at the turn by seven points, 54-47, before Durant and the rest of the Thunder outscored the visiting Heat, 27-19, in the pivotal third quarter in front of a mammoth ‘sea of blue’ crowd at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Durant topscored for his team with 36 markers.
The Thunder likewise got 27 points from playmaker Russell Westbrook while Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha combined for 19 points for Thunder mentor Scott Brooks. Westbrook also added 11 assists while reserve Nick Collison chipped in eight markers and 10 caroms in 21 minutes.
For Erik Spoelstra’s wards, the Heat were led by Lebron James’ 30 points and Dwyane Wade’s 19 while Shane Battier added 17 points on 4-of-6 shooting from downtown in 42 minutes of action. Mario Chalmers chipped in 12 while Chris Bosh had a silent 10 points off the bench.
Overall, the young Thunder outrebounded the Heat, 43-35, and had more assists, 22-20, as well as blocked shots, 3-1, although Miami stole the ball six times as against the Thunder’s five steals. Both teams had 10 turnovers each though.
But what gave Oklahoma City its first ever NBA Finals victory was the Thunder’s 40-of-77 field goal shooting for a high 51.9% success as against the Heat’s lowly 46.2% (36-of-78). Miami sank eight triples against the opposition’s 5-of-17 shooting from beyond the arc with Durant burying four of those treys.
In Game 1, Brooks fielded in only nine players with Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins as starters as opposed to Spoelstra’s first five: James, Wade, Battier, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem. Sixth Man of the Year winner James Harden of the Thunder had a silent five points for Oklahoma City.
Game 2 will be this coming Friday at the Thunder’s home turf with Game 3 scheduled on Monday at the American Airlines Arena in Florida including Game 4. If there’ll be a Game 5 assuming the Thunder fail to sweep the Heat, it will still be played in Miami. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be back in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City is in a must-win situation in tomorrow’s Game 2 or else, the Thunder will be hard-pressed to win three straight in Florida (or at least once) before the series returns to the Chesapeake Energy Arena. For Durant and company, two more wins will give them an insurmountable lead and a possible first ever NBA crown since 1979 when the franchise was still known as the Seatte Supersonics.
The Thunder must emerge triumphant in Game 2 for a comfortable 2-0 series advantage while heading East for Games 3 and 4. Granting there’s no sweep for Oklahoma City, they will have to control the Heat’s ‘Big Three’ of James, Wade and Bosh who are expected to return the favor when they host the Thunder in the next three games of the championship series.
The Fil-Am mentor Spoelstra must likewise squeeze the best from key reserves like Chalmers, Battier and Haslem in order to release his ‘Big Three’ of the triumvirate’s heavy offensive load aside from bringing back the confidence of his reserves. In Game 1, the Thunder bench outclassed the Heat’s reserves, 19-12.
By the way, yours truly is making this article at the People’s Hotel in Iloilo City while attending the one-day Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency seminar at Camp Martin Delgado. Happy birthday to my uncle, Senior Jail Officer 1 Sixto Bedia of BJMP-Passi City this coming June 15.*
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