June 12th, 2012
By Bobby Toulaine -- The Miami Heat came out with their long guns blazing --
like the NBA shoot-out at the OK Corral. Battier, Bosh, and Haslem shot threes with authority on the Thunder for the bulk of the first half -- with the Thunder volleying and serving enough to close the half just down 7 points -- after seeming a step slow -- and a little off their pace and energy early on in the half.
As most sports fans have come to expect, though, the Thunder transformed and began the second half with a familiar defensive tenacity -- and the explosive transition offense we have come to expect later in games. Everybody knows it's coming
-- but when it comes it seems to overwhelm and bewilder their opponents. They know it's coming -- but they are surprised, it seems, by how energetic and how fast it is when it comes.
Kevin Durant -- as usual when the bugle sounds -- erupted in torrents of points when it really mattered --
and Russell Westbrook found some rhythm and scored 27 points with 11 assists -- dishing to teammates for the higher-percentage shot early and often when his shots weren't falling early in the game. He also played tenacious, opportunistic defense -- and led some transition run-outs, making good selections and helping the Thunder get quick, easy open shots, lay-ups and dunks. Durant finished the game with 36 -- 17 coming in the 4th quarter when the game appeared to be riding on his play.
The Heat are a great team -- and I l0ok for Heat coaches to start Chris Bosh in game 2 -
- with idea that 2 games down to a talented young Thunder team might be too much to spot the young guns. Miami will count on Bosh providing false drives, fakes, and finesses for James and Wade to play off of -- and then when you guard against the dish -- give and go -- high pick and roll -- he keeps the ball and finishes -- from anywhere, from any angle -- and in traffic -- reminiscent of Dirk Novitski -- when the game is on the line.
Magic Johnson in the post-game show, smiled and shook his head, saying, "The Thunder have too many talented players for the Heat to
guard them all." Not a very encouraging prediction for the Heat. But one thing we know. When and if Wade and James decide too, they can erupt and mutate into an unstoppable transition scoring machine themselves. But they have to play high-energy to do it.
You have to wonder, though, if the Heat can out-defend, out-hustle, out-transition, and out-energy the young guns of Oklahoma -- at home. The Spurs couldn't, and the Spurs had just about every option imaginable available to them -- for offense, defense, three-point shooting -- or going to the rim -- or kicking to the open shooter. And in the end, the Thunder were just too talented -- man for man -- for the Spurs to regroup and have a chance to get it done. What almost epic battles between these two great teams await us -- over the next several games?