Momentum is something that every NBA team hopes to have on their side when in game mode. Especially when that team is in the playoffs, and more importantly the NBA Finals. Going into Game 4 of the NBA finals, it is clear that the Miami Heat are the team with momentum in their corner. Last night South Beach was hot as the Heat beat the Thunder in a tough grind it out 91-85 victory, taking a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
Now looking at the box score you might be wondering how in the world did OKC lose this game ? Most of the numbers all point to being in OKC's favor with the Heat only shooting at 37.8% last night, and having more turnovers in the most crucial time of the game being the 4th quarter. OKC also had more blocks, and steals in last nights Final's match up. So what drove Miami to their game 3 victory ?
The answer is Dwyane Wade and Lebron James. In the crucial times of game 3 the dynamic duo took the game over. Dwyane Wade struggled shooting early in the first half going 5-15, but his energy and better focus in the second half contributed to him taking over. D Wade finished with 25 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds. Along with those stats he had some big time defensive plays, and shots including an "And 1" bank shot over Kendrick Perkins that solidified the Heat lead late in the game. With Bosh fully back in the lineup, Wade's ability to play off of the pick n' roll offense with Bosh has opened up so many oppurtunities to take it to the basket.
The second reason being Lebron James, who again put on a great performance. This has turned out to be his best Finals ever, and it looks like things will only continue to get better if he plays at this level. He took over on the offensive side of things in the paint. His outside shooting wasn't good, but his ability to take it to the basket at will made things tough for Kevin Durant and Co. Lebron finished with 29 points and 14 rebounds, including a dagger three that also clamped OKC's chances of coming back in last night's game. However, what proved to be the most important phase of his game was his late game match up on Kevin Durant who finished with 25 points, and 6 rebounds. Stifling the 3 time NBA scoring champion on defense to allow only 4 points in the 4th quarter, and causing Durant to get into foul trouble early in the game.
Now the Thunder also had other factors that contributed to their lost last night. They had an awful night at the free throw line only completing 62.5% of their free throws, and only 22.2% of their 3 point shots. They also lacked the production they usually get from their bench, particularly NBA Sixth man of the Year James Harden who had an off night finishing with just 9 points, off of 2-10 shooting. Their offensive woes combined with the late game surge by James and Wade made things tough for OKC last night.
Now will we see OKC have more bad offensive outings like last night ? I don't think so. However I raise the question are they in trouble because despite how bad they did on the offensive side, the defense still kept it close for them. They just couldn't beat a Heat team that despite the heroics of their best two players, were just as bad offensively. The Heat didn't blow OKC out, and in fact out side of scoring in the paint were dreadful for 3 quarters. So for OKC if they can't win with the Heat struggling, can they beat them at home if they come out better than last night? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Game 4 of the NBA Finals is Tuesday at 9pm, On ABC