The heat is on.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 106 @ MIAMI HEAT 121
NBA FINALS * Game 5 * Heat WIN series, 4-1
There was no more waiting 'til the fourth for Kevin Durant. With the season on the line, he started firing away, not unlike Russell Westbrook, who fires, regardless. But this was a sign of things to come: the Heat were shooting 3-pointers at will, making three of them in the last three minutes of the first quarter.
This became pretty much the story of the game. The Thunder were trying so hard to stop LeBron James that they were leaving the shooters open. And Miami made them pay for it. Chris Bosh got into a groove, too, after he repeatedly beat Kendrick Perkins... >=(... to the rim. Oklahoma City would stay close because they got to the foul line nearly every time they got inside.
OKC was able to cut the lead down to 5 early in the third quarter before back-to-back treys punched the Thunder in the gut.
Durant made back-to-back baskets to cut the lead down to 7. After that, the Heat started throwing fireballs everywhere. Even though, yes, there was a questionable flagrant foul call on Derek Fisher, the Heat couldn't be stopped. The Thunder built houses in American Airlines Arena while Miami went on a barrage of three-pointers. Hell, even Bosh made one. This 19-1 run essentially put the game away.
The Heat led as many as 27 points. There was going to be no miraculous Clipper comeback as the Thunder went away and the Heat of the sun took over the weather in Miami. Only the final score was in question and it ended up being: Miami 121, Oklahoma City 106. The Heat win their second NBA championship in franchise history and they get to go to Disneyland. Okay, maybe not (then again, some probably will).
LeBron ended with a triple double. 26 points, 11 caroms, and 13 dimes. And he doesn't care? He sure seemed to care here. Bosh had 24 points and 7 boards while Mike Miller finished with 23 points (7/8 from 3!). Durant had 32 in a losing cause (while he may be destined for a ring later, you still have to feel bad for coming up so short after working so hard) and Westbrook and James Harden had 19 each. The Thunder will be a force for many years to come... but this year isn't their year.
Right from the start, LeBron James knew what the task at hand was. No goofing around, no distractions; just winning the basketball game was everything. And he did what he was supposed to do. He said what I said on an earlier entry: it's about damn time.
For Dwyane Wade, it was his second championship ring. This only adds more to his already impressive resume. Even though that lift that we're used to seeing from him wasn't there this year, he still turned in a very good Finals. 22.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists per game certainly tell a pretty good story.
For Chris Bosh, the forgotten member of the Miami 3:16, Big Three, nWo, etc., he provided the boardwork and help D when the Heat needed it. And he saved his best game for last: 24 points and 7 rebounds. He was a crucial piece in the middle, especially when the Heat decided to go small.
For the supporting cast, they stepped up in a big way. Mario Chalmers has been quite the unsung hero. His 25 points in Game 4 will always be remembered in this championship run. Shane Battier shot the lights out from behind the arc, ending with a .577 percentage from 3! Norris Cole was fearless and gave Miami a spark when they were lacking that energy. And Mike Miller's Game 5 performance was the reason why he was signed by the Heat in the first place.
And as for Coach Erik Spoelstra, give the guy credit. If he was that terrible of a coach, the Heat wouldn't be in the Finals. I like that he was poised throughout his run. I like that he stuck to his guns. While he's not exactly the motivating type nor the type that necessarily goes out of his way to appease his players, his meticulous way of coaching and attention to detail are his strengths. He basically... "stayed the course", "played their game", and "grinded with passion." Spoelstra believed in his system and believed in his players. They got the job done. And that's all you ask for in a coach. Now he's only one of four active coaches that have a championship ring. Horrible coach? I don't think so.
As for Miami Heat, they have fulfilled their destiny. We can talk about whether they'll win not one, not two, not three, not four later.
Right now, let's recognize the new champions of the NBA. Congratulations to the 2012 NBA Champions, the Miami Heat.
For a unique recap, check out the Game 5 Twitter Play-By-Play.
PHOTO CREDITS: 1) Andrew Innerarity/Reuters. 2) Mike Segar/AFP/Getty Images. 3) Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. (Photos 1-3 edited by Payton Wales. Non B-Ball photos were from the internets somewhere.)We're always up late. How about buying us a coffee? Or an energy drink!?