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 4 in Miami on Tuesday night.
Chris Manning’s reaction
If Game 4 proved anything, it’s that LeBron James is without question the best basketball player on the planet, and it’s not even close.
LeBron may have his faults (not being “clutch” and not being a great shooter are the most notable), but who really cares? The man fills a stat sheet up unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. Last night, while dealing with obvious fatigue and cramping, LeBron out up 26 points, 12 assists, and 9 rebounds. At one point, while driving to the rim, LeBron simply collapsed. The fact that he still put up those stats while being obviously hurt is simply amazing.
The other thing I took away from Game 4 is that the Thunder aren’t quite ready to win yet. They are, by estimation, the more talented team in this series, and I also think their “Big Three” of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden is better overall than the Heat’s, which consists of LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. But they are a very young team that hadn’t really been tested before this year. They have room to grow – as their stars are all 23 or younger – but their time is not now. They will lose this series, probably in five or six games, and go back to Oklahoma City reeling. But this time next year, the year after, and probably five years from now, the Thunder will be playing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy again. I really like their foundation, and if they can add quality young big men in the draft, then we could be seeing the beginnings of the first legitimate NBA Dynasty since the Kobe and Shaq led Los Angeles Lakers.
All in all, I think this series ends in five games. The Heat has every ounce of momentum on their side. Assuming that LeBron is healthy and rehydrated by Game 5, then there is no reason they shouldn’t win that game, even if it’s close. And finally, after nine years in the league, the King will finally have his crown.
Zachary Kolesar’s reaction
If you were to tell me that Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers would play pivotal roles in helping secure the “Big Three” their first NBA title in two tries and that James Harden would be a non-factor, I would’ve called you crazy. He may have not been the three-point machine he has been the past few nights, but Battier game up with a huge tip after a jump ball with less than 15 seconds left to give his team possession of the ball up by three. You can check out at the play at the 2:43 mark in the video below:
Battier also went 1-4 from three-point range, bringing his series total to 12-19, which is an impressive 63.2 percent. To put into perspective how well and how often Battier is shooting the three, he has only shot inside the arc three times this series and zero times in the last two games. He shot 33.9 percent from trey land during the season and in the first three series shot a combined 31.2 percent. He’s turned it up a notch this series, and will be a big reason why Miami wins if they grab one more victory from the Thunder.
Chalmers, who had gone missing for the first three games, exploded in Game 4 and even hit a dagger to put the Heat up 101-96 with less than 45 seconds to go in the game. The Miami point guard finished with 25 points while shooting 60 percent from the field. He also managed to get to the free throw line five times after not reaching the charity stripe for the first three games. In his 34 minutes of play, his least all series, Chalmers managed to turn the ball over only once.
Now since everyone saw Chalmers and Battier being key factors in the series/game, it’s time we talk about a key player who hasn’t shown up to play yet. Harden, who averaged 17.6 points through the first three series, scored eight points on a 2-10 shooting effort to push his team to the brink of playoff elimination. His only double-digit performance has come in Game 2, where he shot 63.6 percent from the field and scored 21 points. In the other three games Harden has shot 23.1 percent and has averaged 7.3 points, not the numbers Oklahoma City was hoping to get from him off the bench.
Russell Westbrook, who played his heart out in Game 4, scored 43 points in a losing effort. He converted 20 of his 32 shot attempts, even after being criticized for taking too many shots away from Westbrook. In my opinion he has done everything he can to help his team win, but he’s getting minimal help from the bench.
The Thunder can’t rely on Westbrook for another 40-point gem. If they think they can then this series will end at five games and the “Big Three” will get their trophy and rings. I still think the series will go seven games, but it’s a toss-up from there who will win.
Stay tuned to Right Down Euclid for more NBA Finals coverage