Reporting Tim Kephart
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OKLAHOMA CITY (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat looked great for three quarters of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The fourth quarter swung the game for the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Heat now have to figure out how to slow down the Thunder heading into Game 2.
The Thunder’s version of the Big Three: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden put up 68 points against the Heat in Game 1. Miami’s Big Three of Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade managed just 59 points, with 30 of those coming from LeBron.
Since Miami’s Big Three came together in the summer of 2010, if they score more than 70 points; the team typically wins. Needless to say, Wade and Bosh are going to have to step up their scoring if the Heat wants to keep up with the younger Thunder team.
“We know we have to have more production for sure,” said James, who had never scored more than 25 points in his two previous finals appearances. “We have to have more guys in there to give me and D-Wade a rest, and Shane (Battier). Shane played a lot of minutes. But Spo’ will figure that out.”
LeBron’s sentiment on needing rest should give head coach Erik Spoelstra some food for thought. LeBron played the entire game in the last two games of the conference finals and will be called upon to log heavy minutes in the Finals.
For LeBron to be successful in the Finals, he’ll need more than just Wade and Bosh. In Game 1, Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier stepped up big with 29 combined points. The only problem was 23 of those points came in the first half when Miami was in total control.
“We’re on the road, we come here, we try to win one,” Wade said. “Now, we make the adjustments and we come out and we try to split the next game. I’m not worried about it. I’m sure we’ll find some better opportunities for ourselves and we’ll be more comfortable in Game 2.”
Battier said he thought the Heat played their least intelligent half of a game in two months during the second half of Game 1.
“In this league you have to move teams from side-to-side. You have to move bodies and you can’t allow teams to lock in and stare at you,” he added. “You try to make them move. In the first half we were moving them from side-to-side and we were able to get our attackers going. In the second half, we didn’t do that as much.”
The Thunder outscored Miami in transition by a whopping 24-4 margin in Game 1. The Thunder also held Miami to just 40 percent shooting in the second half.
LeBron scored 16 of Miami’s 40 second half points. Dwyane Wade, who the Heat need a much bigger contribution from, managed just 9 points not counting two baskets he had when OKC was leading by double digits.
“We’ll get him (LeBron) opportunities to attack. I think he had a couple of good opportunities to get into the paint there in the fourth, a couple maybe he wasn’t able to convert,” Spoelstra said. “But he was aggressive during that quarter. We’ll try to get him in places where he can continue to be aggressive.”
One thing became crystal clear in Game 1; LeBron James must guard Kevin Durant for extended periods of time. According to ESPN Stats and Info, James guarded Durant on just five plays in Game 1. The result of those five players was two missed shots and two turnovers.
When Shane Battier and others were guarding the league’s top scorer this year, Durant scored 34 points and was 12-18 from the floor and had 0 turnovers in the game.
Chris Bosh told reporters after Game 1 he knew the key to winning Game 2 and sending the series back to Miami tied at 1-1 will be the team being much more aggressive.
““We have to do a better job of executing our offense,” Bosh said via ESPN.com. “Sometimes we have to attack the rim, because if you’re not making shots and you’re shooting jumper after jumper, (Oklahoma City) is getting out in the open court, and that’s what they do.”
The Heat will look to tie up the series at 1 starting Thursday night at 9 p.m.