Thursday, LeBron James silenced many critics by going 12 of 12 from the Free Throw line and putting the game late in the fourth quarter. The Miami Heat went into a hostile environment against the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were once again favored by five points, and led from the first whistle until the last. Aside from hitting all of his free throws, a rarity for the league’s MVP, James made other top plays in the clutch, including an assist to Wade, a dagger pull-up jumper which banked home, and guarding Kevin Durant physically on his last shot that fell short. James finished with 32 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists.
He only turned the ball over twice. One time at the end of the game off a crummy pass from Wade that almost cost them the game.
Also for the Miami Heat, Shane Battier continued his sharp shooting, going 5 of 7 from downtown. Battier’s performance in the NBA Finals so far has often kept Miami’s leads from deteriorating. Wade was strong once again, shooting 50% and scoring 24. Bosh’s 15 rebounds were huge and Miami as a team out-rebounded what just might be the NBA’s best front court. Ibaka was held to just 4 rebounds and Perkins only played 19 minutes, grabbing 8 boards. For Oklahoma City, Durant hit many late shots to rally the home Thunder to a near-win late in the fourth quarter. However, Durant’s partner-in-crime Russell Westbrook hit only 10 of 26 shots. Westbrook was quiet until the fourth quarter. Harden was once again strong off the bench, scoring 21. Fisher, also off the bench, played well despite not having much statistical impact. Thunder coach Scotty Brooks shortened his rotation even further, playing just 8 of his troops. Thabo Sefolosha’s impact against the Heat is largely nullified as the Heat are not dependent on one player’s offense like the Spurs were on Tony Parker. Heading into Games 3, 4, and 5 in Miami, the Thunder must be careful to not let LeBron James kill them down in the post like he did in Game 2. For the Thunder to make it back to Oklahoma City they will have to make James into a perimeter player. With players like Perkins and Ibaka, who are known for their defense, there is little excuse to let a SF out-muscle them in the post.