The staff writers at Right Down Euclid will be reacting to each game of the NBA Finals. Here’s what Zachary Kolesar and Chris Manning had to think about Game 2 in Oklahoma City on Thursday night.
Zachary Kolesar’s reactoin
The thing that has made me the most upset while watching the NBA playoffs this year is the inconsistent officiating. I wouldn’t even call it bad officiating, although that has been a topic of conversation surrounding the league since the first series. We’ll get back to that later, though.
The Miami Heat got off to another scorching start in the first quarter, scoring 13 points compared to Oklahoma City’s two points before the Thunder called their first time out of the game. Despite a fourth quarter scare the Heat never looked back, successfully close out a game against a team that is now 9-1 at home in the playoffs and did what they came to Oklahoma City to do; win one on the road.
Despite a normal off-the-bench performance from James Harden, the Heat and Thunder benches were almost non-existent, while most of the pressure was put on the “Big Three” of both teams.
The trio in Miami totaled 72 points, 29 rebounds and 11 assists, with Dwyane Wade having the performance that the Heat have been asking for throughout the playoffs. Supporting LeBron enough that he didn’t have to finish the game by himself and risk going down 2-0, Wade shot 50 percent from the field in an effort to put some of LeBron’s workload on himself.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Harden, who totaled 80 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists, were doomed early due to Durant getting into foul trouble early in the game (he finished the game with five fouls) and a poor shooting night by Westbrook (38.5 percent from the field, along with many ill-advised shots).
If seems as if this series is going to come down to which “Big Three” can outperform the other. Statistics may not fully show it, but the Miami squad functioned much better on the court than they did in Game 1, proving to be a factor in the game along with Shane Battier’s 17-point performance and excellent three-point shooting.
And about that foul: there was minimal contact made on that play, but the referees had been making calls like that all night. It’s the Finals, those calls shouldn’t be made, but if they’re going to consistently call “small fouls” then call them until the final buzzer.
Chris Manning’s reaction
It kills me to say this – but Skip Bayless may be right about Russell Westbrook.
The enigmatic Bayless has said on several occasions that he believes that Westbrook, the Oklahoma City point guard, shoots too much for the Thunder to win. He believes that Westbrook should defer to Kevin Durant, who many believe to be the best pure scorer in the NBA today.
In Game 2 last night Westbrook was 10 of 26 from the field, scoring 27 points. He was erratic from buzzer to buzzer, but especially in the first half when the Miami Heat simply dominated. One has to wonder that if Westbrook had deferred to Durant, who took 22 shots, making 12 of them. Durant shot a full FOURTEEN PERCENT better than Westbrook last night. The Thunder won’t come out and say it, but they have to be looking to have Westbrook tone it down a little. Having him defer to Durant or the smooth James Harden, who put up a quiet 21 points last night, would help make them a more efficient basketball team that wouldn’t have to make a massive second half comeback to win the game.
There were other problems for the Thunder last night, namely Durant’s foul trouble, a slow start, and a resurgent Dwayne Wade. But they still remained in the game, and if one or two calls go their way, we could be talking about the Thunder going into Miami with a 2-0 lead. But instead, they are tied 1-1 and likely need to win one of the next two games, if not both, in order to have a chance at winning the series. And, as crazy as it may be, it starts with taking the advice of Skip Bayless.
Stay tuned to Right Down Euclid for more NBA Finals coverage