Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Slow start dooms OKC
Think about this. When a team beats another by 16 to 20 points, it’s considered a blowout. So when the Thunder got down 18-2, they now faced the daunting task of having to blow out the Miami Heat just to tie the game at some point. And they almost did.
Over the final 43:10 of the game, OKC beat Miami 94-88. It was the first 4:50 that really killed OKC, Miami held off rally after rally, keeping the game in double digits for most of the night.
Then the fourth quarter happened.
And it was a gloriously fun quarter that featured ridiculous shots, amazingly athletic plays, shots that had no business going in falling, and… in the end… just not enough juice left for OKC to finish the job. Derek Fisher found Kevin Durant with 12 seconds left for a short baseline jumper that, controversially, missed. While many argued for a foul on LeBron James (more on that next), he was calmly sinking two free throws to ice game.
This is twice that OKC has furiously come back from a large deficit. Last night’s was too large to fully overcome. And in my greatest analysis ever, I will say that they can’t keep doing this, because it’s just too much of a grind to make that kind of comeback every night.
2: … about that foul
Here’s OKC’s last real possession
Yes, that was a foul. But I’ll repeat what I’ve said before in this space: If you have put yourself in a position to have your game decided by a foul call, then chances are astronomically high that you could have done other things to avoid that. OKC played down about 13 points the entire game and were out-played for probably 38-40 minutes.
Other things to consider: Even if Durant got the foul:
- there’s no guarantee he makes both free throws (he missed one three minutes earlier).
- If he does make both, Miami had seven seconds to run a play and possibly win the game.
- And if they didn’t win the game, there’s NO guarantee OKC wins the game in OT, especially considering Durant had 5 fouls and may not have made it to the end.
So people blaming the loss on the refs need to reevaluate their stance. Not only could OKC have done a LOT more to have avoided being in that situation, there were too many variables involved after the play as well to make that the case.
Kevin Durant’s clutch coast-to-coast dunk from every angle
Super Slow-mo: Ibaka blocks LeBron’s dunk
Wade finds Bosh for the dagger dunk
4: Line of the Night: LeBron James – 32 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists
LeBron was aggressive early, taking Kevin Durant to the hole every chance he got. The result was a big early lead, openings for his teammates, and fouled on Durant that changed the way he played until just under nine minutes left in the game.
If the Heat had lost, LeBron would have been crushed, somewhat fairly, somewhat unfairly, for not scoring a fourth quarter point until there were about four minutes left. But the Heat won, so LeBron gets credit for shaking it off and icing the game with two free throws with seven seconds left.
Such is life under the spotlight.
5: You can quote me on that
I missed the shot, man.
-Kevin Durant, when asked “you don’t think you got mugged by LeBron on that last play?”
Going against him in my career, I understood how smart he was, I understood how competitive he was, especially on the defensive end.
-LeBron James on Shane Battier
That was the game. We can’t start off down 18 to 2…. We’ve got to correct it.