The Oklahoma City Thunder did not look sharp coming out of the gate in game one of the NBA Finals, as they hosted the Miami Heat Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena, as they seemed ill at ease during the first quarter of the club’s first trip to the Association’s Championship round, allowing their visitors to jump on top by seven points at the conclusion of the quarter. The two teams played to a draw in the second, sending the Heat to their locker room at the half, with visions of winning a game on the road to start the series, as they held a 54-47 advantage.
The Thunder would keep pulling close to their opponents in the third, however Miami would keep pulling ahead every time the home team got within range of knotting up the score. Oklahoma City would keep at it however and take the lead as Russell Westbrook drove the lane putting the ball in the cylinder, was fouled on the play and hit his shot at the line with 16 seconds left in the period. Heading into the fourth the Thunder held a razor thin lead.
That would be the point of the game when Oklahoma City All-Star forward Kevin Durant took over the contest, scoring 17 of his game high 36 points,while the team received outstanding defensive efforts from guard Thabo Sefolosha and reserve forward Nick Collison, leading to the Thunder winning the game 105-94. Russell Westbrook would be just two boards short of a triple-double as the All-Star guard knocked down 27 points and dished off 11 assists in the opening game victory.
NBA MVP LeBron James led the Heat with 30 points for the night, however he could not keep up with his counterpart in the critical fourth quarter. Dwyane Wade scored 19 points while Shane Battier added another 17, with Mario Chalmers putting up 12 points while Chris Bosh chipped in 10 points off the bench. However, after holding the hot-hand in the first quarter, they would be outscored by 18 points during the second half.
Miami was the confident squad during the first half, however the deeper they went into the second half, the more you could tell how unsure they were as the Thunder made their run. During the final 12 minutes of action; as Durant and Westbrook were sinking nearly all their shots, the panic that had overtaken the Heat was obvious, as they rushed their shots, besides taking some ill-advised chances.
Had the visitors held onto win this game, it would have set an entirely different tone for this match-up, perhaps with Miami sweeping the series. Although the Thunder only held serve by winning this game, it showed them that they not only are capable of beating their opponents and coming back from a deficit at the half; it showed them that they truly do belong in these Finals. That confidence going forward, could make a big difference in the final outcome of this series. Game two will be back at Chesapeake Arena on Thursday night.