Running notes from Nate Barnes during Miami's title-clinching 121-106 Game Five victory.
LeBron gets the crowd on its feet early by starting the scoring with a dunk in transition, giving the Heat a 2-0 lead. Westbrook and Durant each score, as well as Ibaka for the Thunder in the opening minutes and they lead 6-4 with 8:10 left in the quarter.
The Heat put five points on the board real quick to take an 11-8 lead. First, Chalmers makes a Steve Nash-esque dribbling tour of the baseline to collapse the defense and then kicks out to a wide open Battier. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Heat do this, and have it work, in this series. You’d think the Thunder would’ve figured this trick out by now. After the three, Wade lays in an alley-oop from Chalmers and the Heat are humming.
The Heat continue to score close to the basket, as Chalmers finds James cutting on the baseline, who shoots over Sefolosha to earn the and-one and send Thabo to the bench with two fouls. On the next play, James drives hard to the basket on a pick and roll with Bosh and scores over Ibaka, making it 16-10 Heat.
Later, Bosh blows by Perkins on two consecutive plays to stretch the Heat lead to seven, 22-15, causing Scott Brooks to take a timeout with 3:57 remaining. So far, the Heat are shooting 8-13 from the field and have made seven shots in a row.
After the timeout, Mike Miller hits two threes in the span of a little over a minute to put the Heat up 28-19, after missing all four of his attempts in the first four games of the series. Durant responds with an and-one basket to bring the lead back to six, but Norris Cole hits another three to make it 31-22 with a minute to go. OKC is able to bring the deficit back to four with free throws from Westbrook and a dunk by Durant, leaving the game at 31-26 Miami at the end of the quarter.
So far, the game seems like it’s all about the Heat and the Thunder are just hanging around. Miami has slowed the game down considerably and are limiting the Thunder from playing at the faster pace they prefer. Setting the tone for the Heat is LeBron James, who scored 7 points alongside 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Miller and Bosh have 6 points apiece.
Durant has 9 points to lead the game in scoring, and Westbrook has 8. The rest of the team has only 9 points and someone—James Harden—needs to step up to prevent the team from falling further behind. The Thunder defense looked solid in the beginning, but let up once the Heat started to penetrate. Offensively, OKC has made more of an effort to attack the basket.
The Thunder come within two points after Westbrook scores off a pass from Nick Collison, and converts the and-one after a foul by Cole. The teams then trade threes as Miller then Derek Fisher hit to bring the score to 34-32.
The Heat have gone on another mini-run as they did in the first quarter, starting with Wade tipping in a miss by Cole on the fastbreak after Westbrook missed a dunk on the other end. Wade then hits a step back jumper and one of two free throws after drawing a foul on Fisher. A lay-up by Bosh on an assist from James puts the Thunder up 41-34 with 7:20 to play in the half, resulting in a timeout from Scott Brooks.
At this point in the game, you get the sense the Thunder’s intensity is beginning to wane, and that of the Heat is continuity to grow. The Thunder need to make a run here at the end of the half to bring the game close, and prevent the Heat from taking momentum into the locker room. Still have the feeling they are just hanging around in this game, but not for any real purpose. Durant has not taken a shot yet and needs to become more involved here.
Right out of the timeout, Durant misses a jumper and James spins off Harden in the post to put the Heat up 43-34. Harden responds with a pair of free throws, but on the ensuing possession the Thunder fail to mark a man on the Heat perimeter for the fifth time, this time Mario Chalmers, and he knocks down the three to give the Heat their biggest lead of the game. Bosh converts a lay-up after an offensive board by James, making it 48-36 and Brooks call another timeout with 5:46 left.
After this timeout, a charge by Westbrook and a turnover by Durant results in Miller’s fourth three-pointer of the game and a score by James, bringing the lead to 17 at 53-36. Two sets of free throws by Harden bring the lead back to 13, but more importantly draws two fouls on Miller sending him to the bench with four in only the second quarter.
The two teams continue to trade baskets—Durant finally connects in the period with a three, and later a jumper—and the Thunder shave another three points off the deficit to bring the score to 59-49 at the half. This probably isn’t the way this team wanted the first half to go, but they should certainly be grateful the Heat didn’t blow them out of the water when they had them down 17.
What’s keeping the Thunder in the game is their advantage in the free throw department, having shot 18 compared to the Heat’s 10. Especially with Westbrook and Harden, who have scored 13 and 8 respectively. But Westbrook is 2-9 from the field and his 13 come largely off the nine free throws he shot and made. Same with Harden, who is 6-6 from the line but 1-3 from the field. Durant was not nearly involved enough in the second, as he was just about invisible for the first ten minutes of the quarter, and scored only 5 points on 2-6 shooting.
On the bright side for OKC, their Big Three have outscored the Heat’s, 35-34. James has 15, Bosh has 10, and Wade has 9 to this point. But the difference in this game right now is Mike Miller who is 4-4 from distance and has 12 points. Somebody from OKC needs to step up, as Miller has, and help Durant, Westbrook, and Harden out here.
Right out of the gate, the Thunder cut the lead in half at the behest of a three from Durant and free throws from Ibaka. The teams trade a couple baskets, but Chalmers and Battier connect on threes to push the lead back up to 11, 67-56 with 9:33 left and an OKC timeout.
The Thunder shave four points off their deficit after a couple of jumpers by Durant and a score by Westbrook, inciting a timeout from Miami at 7:20 left in the quarter up 69-62.
The Thunder are in trouble now. After the timeout, the Heat have launched into another gear after a three by Battier, a jumper by Bosh, three free throws from Bosh, conversion of free throws by James after a flagrant foul by Fisher, a free throw by Wade, and then a lay-up by James off a pass from Wade. This 13-1 run forces Brooks to call a timeout down 19 points, 82-63, with 3:54 left.
After the timeout, Bosh and Miller knock down threes to push the lead to 25 and stretch the run to a 19-1 margin. Durant finally ends it with a jumper, and the teams go back and forth until the end of the quarter with the Heat leading 96-71 having scored 36 points in the period on 58% shooting which included five threes made on eight attempts.
Most impressively, the quarter came as a team effort, with six players scoring four or more points, as James scored only four points in facilitating the run with six assists. Bosh led the way with 12 points in the quarter. The Thunder on the other hand only had three players score, with Durant going 5-6 for 12 points. Westbrook went 2-9 in the quarter alone, for six points, and shot his team out of contention in this stretch.
The starters have stayed on the court for the Heat, as this quarter is basically their victory lap. LeBron notches another triple-double after an offensive rebound and then a putback with 4:49 left. Mike Miller exits the game at the break to a well-deserved standing ovation after his 23 point performance, making seven of eight three-point attempts. Westbrook and Durant sit down as well after the timeout.
Wade and James exit at 3:01 and begin celebrating on the bench. Of interest now is the Juwan Howard has entered the game and is on the verge of breaking the curse of the Fab Five, likely becoming the only member of that Michigan team to win any sort of championship.
Harden throws in a couple of threes to give himself 11 points in the quarter, and the rest of the bench players finish the game out to a final score of 121-106.
The Heat are NBA Champions.
The contributions from Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers, and Shane Battier made the largest difference in this game. Players beside the Heat’s Big Three outscored those beside the Thunder’s Big Three, 51-36. As for the Big Threes, James’ 26, Bosh’s 24, and Wade’s 20 outscored the Thunder’s total made up of the game-high 32 from Durant and then 19 apiece from Westbrook and Harden, 70-60.
James, named the Finals MVP, posted a triple-double with a line of 26p/13a/11r while playing 44 minutes in tonight’s game, leading the way in every possible manner.
For the Thunder, Durant shot 13-24 for 32 points, but did not get nearly enough support. Westbrook scored 19 points, but was 4-20 from the field. Harden, who also finished with 19 points, but 11 of those didn’t come until garbage time when the game was out of contention in the final period.