The Heat survived a late scare — and a possible no-call on LeBron James — to walk out of Oklahoma City with a 100-96 victory in Game 2. The NBA Finals are tied at one game apiece as the series shifts back to Miami Sunday night. Here’s what we learned in an action-packed Thursday night:
LeBron is clutch. Our Twitter feed was filled with LeBron James apologists late Thursday night claiming that he had proven he was clutch by draining those two free throws with seven seconds left. (Allow our cynicism to sink in here, since free throws are shots every professional basketball player should make, no matter the situation). But, yes, it is true that they put the game away. And his 16-foot bank shots with 1:25 helped stall some Thunder momentum. However, did LeBron’s fan club fail to miss the pull-up, 3-pointer he launched at the 14-second mark. That ill-advised shot could have cost the Heat Game 2.
Resilient Thunder. As we’ve learned throughout these NBA playoffs, never count the Oklahoma City Thunder out. They trailed 27-15 after the first quarter and were getting physically dominated. Still, Durant and Co. hung around and made a heroic run late in the fourth to pull within four, then two. Durant almost tied it, too. His short jumper with 9.9 seconds left fell just short. It sure looked like James fouled him on the play, but the refs swallowed the whistle. Either way, you have to think the Thunder feel good about themselves going into Game 3.
Bosh asserts himself. Chris Bosh wanted to start, so he did. According to an ESPN report, Bosh walked onto the court at practice when Erik Spoelstra called for the starters. Basically, he told his coach — and teammates — that he was starting whether they approved or not. After Game 1, Spoelstra tried to light a fire by saying he needed more offense from the seven-time All-Star. Well, both moves paid off as Bosh turned in a double-double (16 points, 15 rebounds).
Best play of the night. This award goes to Dwyane Wade, for his sick almost no-look bounce pass to Bosh. The big man threw it down for an easy dunk that swelled the Heat lead to seven with 53.8 ticks to go.
Looking ahead to Game 3
In defense of LeBron: The Thunder switched it up by rotating James Harden and Kevin Durant to guard LeBron James late in the fourth quarter. James got the best of Harden on some key possessions, but Durant seemed to hold his own.
Late-night serenade. Prior to Game 2, Jimmy Kimmel hosted a pregame show on ABC. The late-night comedian will do this for the entire NBA Finals. However, it might be hard to top Thursday’s skit where Mike Tyson provided a serenade for LeBron.
Quicker start. We realize this is an obvious one, but those slow starts were bound to catch up with the Thunder eventually, right? At halftime, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were a combined 5-for-19 from the field. The Heat led by as many as 13 in the second quarter of Game 1 before the Thunder turned it on — and they led by 17 at one point in Game 2. This can’t happen if they expect to being the Larry O’Brien Trophy to OKC for the first time. Now, the Thunder must win at least one game in the Heat’s building.