Those who witnessed game one of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, watched as a team evolved and matured before their eyes, from a squad that played tentatively during the first 12 minutes of action, to a team that dominated both ends of the court during the final period, leading to their winning the contest. Perhaps, the Oklahoma City Thunder were a bit overcome with the size of the event they were participating in, four years after being a Lottery team, while their opponents, the Miami Heat were making a repeat performance at the Big Dance, after falling to the Dallas Mavericks last year.
The home team, that defeated the Mavericks, the Lakers and the Spurs to reach their first Finals since relocating to Oklahoma City, would rid themselves of their first quarter jitters, as they looked like the seasoned veterans in the second half as they beat the Heat 105-94. Not only did All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook come through offensively down the stretch for the club, but stellar defensive efforts by Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison, who shut down the Heat in final 24 minutes, as Miami scored just 40 points in the second half after putting up 54 points in the first.
That comeback has to be a huge psychological boost to the team representing the Western Conference, as they proved to the planet, but more importantly themselves; that they are capable of fighting back against adversity, to come back to defeat Miami in the NBA Championship round. Up until they actually accomplished it on Tuesday night, it was just a concept; it has now been proven that they are capable of beating their opponents, not just in one game, but they can take the series.
Durant is a humble leader, that realizes just how important his entire team is in the Thunder winning these NBA Finals. When interviewed by ABC-Sports after the game, he went out of his way to praise his teammates and emphasized that it is a team game. In an era that is filled with over-inflated egos; it is truly refreshing to have an athlete on the court with the talent and the mind-set that the 23-year-old forward possesses.
I will stand by my pre-series prediction of Oklahoma City winning the Finals in six games, even more confident after watching what the Thunder accomplished in game one.