Miami Heat Win Away From NBA Championship
By: Michael Robinson
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The Miami Heat can clinch the NBA title on Thursday night over the Oklahoma City Thunder and permanently change the legacy and reputation of superstar LeBron James.
Miami is a 3-point home favorite after initially opening at 3½, so early money was on the Thunder. The total is 193½ on the Don Best odds screen and ABC will broadcast at 9:00 p.m. (ET) from AmericanAirlines Arena.
Oklahoma City is +350 to win the series now, making for an interesting underdog wager.
The Thunder were in a must-win situation in Tuesday’s Game 4, but lost 104-98 and failed to cover as 3-point ‘dogs. The game went ‘over’ the posted total of 193.
Coach Scott Brooks’ bunch blew a 17-point first quarter lead and a 33-19 margin after 12 minutes. Miami was able to change the pace of the game and take the final three quarters for the victory.
The Thunder now find themselves in the desperate situation down 3-1, despite being in every game. There have been critical blunders late in the games, showing their youth and inexperience, while Miami has made the plays when needed.
Sixth man James Harden is arguably the biggest goat this series at 10.8 PPG and 35.1 percent shooting from the field (13-of-37). The bearded one is the third prong of the Oklahoma City attack along with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Harden looks ‘scared to death in the fourth quarter’ according to Don Best’s Pat Williams, which is exactly correct.
No NBA team has ever come back to win the title after trailing 3-1 in the Finals. Even more striking is that no squad has ever forced a Game 7 under that scenario since the format went to 2-3-2 in 1985.
Williams thinks the Thunder’s best chance is being ‘too young and stupid’ to know they can’t come back. Remember they beat the Spurs 4-straight after being down 2-0, so if anyone can do it, it’s them.
Free throw disparity has gotten a lot of media coverage. Oklahoma City has attempted less free throws each of the last two games than Miami has made. Westbrook (43 points on 32 shots) was fouled just one time in Game 4 despite continually going to the basket hard. Williams believes the charity stripe has been the deciding factor the last two games.
The NBA main offices certainly want this series to extend past five games, so conspiracy theorists think the officiating may be more even on Thursday.
Miami has gotten much better production from its role players like Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier. Chalmers had 25 points last game on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor in a tremendous effort.
James has been the best player on the court at 29.3 PPG in the four games. He hit some big shots to help win Game 4 even while suffering from bad cramps. If Miami wins this series, then the ‘King’ will have won over even his harshest critics with overall greatness and clutch play.
Games 6 and 7 will be in Oklahoma City if needed beginning Sunday. That would be a huge disappointment for Heat fans, who expect to still be celebrating their second title in franchise history.