Heat still confident after Game 1 loss to OKC
How could you think the Heat weren't going to make this interesting?
After all, they don't really get going until times get desperate.
lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night, 105-94 at Oklahoma
City, to fall behind for a third straight series. So they should feel
right at home.
Nobody on the Heat seemed tremendously concerned
when they fell behind 2-1 in an East semifinal to Indiana and were
facing Game 4 on the road without an injured Chris Bosh. Nobody was in a
panic mode when Miami was down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals to
Boston and facing Game 6 on the road.
"We normally respond well to
desperation," Dwyane Wade said nonchalantly before the Heat pulled out
Games 6 and 7 in dramatic fashion to oust the Celtics.
deficits were more severe against Indiana and Boston, but let it be
known: The Thunder are much better than those teams. The Pacers ended up
folding like origami against the Heat, losing the final three games,
including Game 6 at home when the Heat were reduced to virtually no big
men because of Bosh's injury and Udonis Haslem’s suspension. And the
aging, no-depth Celtics, while they put up a gallant fight, were
teetering near the end of that series like runners reaching Heartbreak
Hill during the Boston Marathon.
As for the Thunder, they can run
all day. And on Tuesday they ran circles around the Heat after Miami had
taken a 37-23 lead in the second quarter. Oklahoma City outscored the
Heat 82-57 the rest of the way.
Still, Wade said, "I'm not worried about it."
coach Erik Spoelstra should have more to worry about. He'll be second
guessed for playing only six guys more than 10 minutes in Game 1. Then
again, what would a Heat series be without Spoelstra getting heat?
strange thing is it was the Heat who had wrapped up the grueling Boston
series Saturday and then flown halfway across the country. The Thunder,
meanwhile, had been resting at home since Wednesday. So why, under that
scenario, would Spoelstra shorten his bench so much, and way more than
Oklahoma City did?
"We're going to have to have more guys in there
to give me and D-Wade a rest," said James, who scored a game-high 30
points in 46 minutes while Wade had 19 points in 42 minutes.
It sounds as if Spoelstra, who didn't fully explain Tuesday's substitution strategy, will comply.
probably try to go a little bit deeper in Game 2," said Spoelstra, who
used just eight players Tuesday, including center Joel Anthony, who
logged just two minutes.
Also expect Bosh to be inserted back into
the starting lineup for Game 2. You can't question Spoelstra for not
starting Bosh, who had come off the bench for three games after missing
nine with an abdominal strain and was impressive against the Celtics in
Game 7 with 19 points.
Still, until last week Bosh had not come
off the bench since early in the 2003-04 season, so the time is right to
get him back into his comfort zone. That's especially the case after he
had just 10 points in 34 minutes Tuesday.
Despite the loss, there
were some positives for the Heat. Bloodhounds are sometimes needed to
find scoring on the team outside of the Big Three. But forward Shane
Battier stepped up, shooting 4-of-6 from 3-point range and scoring 17
And yes, James didn't do a lot in the fourth quarter,
scoring just two points in the first eight minutes when the game was
still in doubt. But he still scored the most points he has in his
11-game Finals career. The Finals hardly have been the best stage for
James, who came in with a 19.5-point career scoring average in such
games compared to a 29.4 average in all his other playoff games.
Wade, who had another crummy shooting night at 7-of-19, was a big
negative for the Heat as was their defense. Spoelstra prides himself
most on the latter, so you know that had to be his biggest
"We're a better defensive team than we showed
tonight," Spoelstra said after Oklahoma City shot 51.9 percent and after
watching Kevin Durant shred the Heat for 36 points, including 17 in the
fourth quarter, and Russell Westbrook score 27.
But it is just one game. All it would take is a win in Thursday's Game 2 in Oklahoma City to turn the series in Miami's favor.
must be said only four of the past 20 teams that lost Game 1 came back
to win the Finals. But one of those teams fought back to win even after
also losing Game 2.
That, of course, was the 2006 Heat, who won
the final four games with Wade starring to stun Dallas. So that's one
reason why Wade, when Miami is facing adversity, makes like Alfred E.
Neuman and says, "What, me worry?"