|Written by Michael|
Bet on the NBAOne question entering the 2012 NBA Championship Series was how the Oklahoma City Thunder would react to experiencing all the peripheral activities surrounding the event. The increase in press and TV coverage, as well as the overall fan experience, was not something this crew from OKC had ever seen before.
After all, many players on the Miami Heat had participated in the festivities just last year and of course Dwyane Wade already had a ring to go with it. So when the ball was tipped off last night in Chesapeake Energy Arena, all eyes were on Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder to see how they would react. OKC ultimately reacted just fine, in a 105-94 come from behind victory.
Early on, it appeared that nerves might have gotten the better of them. They were 1 for 6 on their first six shots from the field. Westbrook finished the first half shooting only 30 percent (3-10). Oklahoma City trailed by as many as 13 points.
Then came the second half and while the Thunder greatly improved with their shooting, at least as big a factor was their improved defense. Miami had scored 54 points in the first half, but could only muster 40 in the second. In fact, Durant and Westbrook alone outscored the entire Heat offense 41-40 in half number two. Durant had a total of 36 points in the contest, almost half of them (17) in the final quarter. Westbrook had 27 and 11 assists to go along with 8 rebounds as the Thunders big two clearly out played James and Wade.
King James did have 30 points in this one, but Wade only netted 19. Chris Bosh coming off the bench for Miami finished with just 10. Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, who looked like they might compliment James and Wade and exhibit a true team effort, had 23 points in the first half, but all but disappeared in the second, combining for only 6 in the final two quarters.
Game one winners in this series emerge with the Larry O'Brien Trophy 73 percent of the time. Click here to see the odds for Wednesday night's game 2 in OKC. The Thunder are now 9-0 in OKC during this postseason and own homecourt advantage. That does not bode well for Miami who is 4-5 away from South Beach.