With back-to-back wins the Miami Heat have secured a 2-1 series lead in the 2012 NBA Finals. Game 3 was another impressive win for Miami, who have shown the resiliency to bounce back after the the going gets tough, which has been the major difference from last year. Oklahoma City cannot afford to lose their third game in a row in Game 4, if they do it will almost certainly be the end of their season.
Kevin Durant needs to find a way to stay aggressive on both ends of the floor without getting into foul trouble like he has the past two games. Durant is unstoppable on the offensive end of the court, he even told Dwayne Wade that he is too short to guard him. As dominating of a force that Durant is on offense, he is a liability on defense against Lebron James. James has changed the way he has played the past two games (both of them wins for Miami), and has decided to take the ball to the hole and has stopped settling for jump-shots. Durant is not strong enough to guard LeBron when he has this mindset (but neither is anyone on Earth), therefore the Thunder should put Thabo Sefolosha and James Harden on him. Neither of the two will be able to stop LeBron but it is a tradeoff the Thunder will have to accept because they need Durant on the floor at the end of the game. When Durant got his fourth foul in Game 3 he was forced to sit down in the third, which was the same time the Heat made their run that was ultimately the deciding factor.
Russell Westbrook seems to be the scapegoat whenever the Thunder do not win. However contrary to most media outlets (ESPN) , Westbrook has played well in these Finals. People need to except the fact that Westbrook is not Jason Kidd or John Stockton, he is instead a hybrid of a point guard and a small forward. Westbrook is still learning the position, he didn’t even play the point at UCLA and is still much more of an asset than liability.
James Harden played abysmal in Game 3 and his late foul against LeBron in the final minute put the game out of reach for Oklahoma City. When Meta World-Peace tweets, “all beard no brain,” and is right you know you have had a bad game! Harden played out of control for most of the game, but the thing that hurt the Thunder most of all was their poor free-throw shooting. Oklahoma was one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the league all season long but in the Finals they have yet to find their mark, failing to reach 70% as a team. The Heat on the other hand went from shooting free throws poorly in the Conference Finals to virtually not missing. LeBron James has hit clutch free throws in the final moments of each of the past two games and he is notorious for missing curtail for missing vital shots down the stretch of games.
Dwayne Wade has improved his play the past couple games, driving to the hoop and also not settling for jump shots (which he has not consistently made this entire postseason). Even with his improved play many insiders say his knee is still bothering him:
Not sure if it shows on TV, but Wade clearly not right. Laid in breakaway dunk, didn't attack w/LeBron off floor, less lift on drives.—
Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) June 18, 2012
Even with this said, Wade should and will continue to man-up and have a strong game 4.
The Thunder will be desperate in Game 4 and the Heat have a history being lackadaisical after a convincing win. We predicted the Heat to win Game 3 92-84 (here). Oklahoma City’s Big Three will each have monster games to tie the 2012 NBA Finals at 2-2. Tipoff is at 9:00 PM EST Tuesday night, make sure not to miss another nail biting finish.
Check out our complete NBA Final’s Prediction here.
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