June 20th, 2012
By Bobby Toulaine -- The Thunder erupted like the Thunder can right out of the box -- but Miami counter-attacks and muscles in for the kill
when the game was on the line. The Thunder, having lost the ball movement mojo they learned from San Antonio, played superb isolation basketball -- with Russell Westbrook looking the the little brother of Michael Jordon and the old brother of Derrick Rose.
Wade, Bosh, and James played like the All-stars they are, but played a little less isolation basketball
and moved the ball for the slightly higher percentage shot - scoring points in the paint and drawing fouls for easy added point. Battier nailed his usual three or four critical points when it looked like the Thunder might be starting to pull away -- and Chalmers mutated into the Star he may be becoming and drove, shot and dished for big points at critical moments all game long.
The Oklahoma Thunder turned into the Russell Westbrook show,
with the rest of the team just getting out of the way. The mystery phenomenon of the NBA finals has become slowly become the vanishing act of James Harden. Playing tentatively, without confidence, losing the ball on drives, only taking the shot when there was no one open to pass to and the shot clock was winding down -- and then only hesitantly, reluctantly, and then usually off the mark. He also turned the ball over what may have been a career high -- at least 7 times, usually off tentative drives and reluctant decision-making. He has seemed the most effected by the pressures of his first trip to the Finals. And without his play-making precision and dare-devil finesse late in games when it matters most, the Thunder just did not have enough fire-power on the floor at any given time to stop -- or out compete -- Miami.
It looks like Le Bron James will finally get that monkey off his back.
And with the opportunistic play of rookie Jones, the emergence of Chalmers, and the steady hand of Battier, the Heat look to have staying power for some time to come.