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Heat Take 2-1 Series Lead in NBA Finals

Once again, the Heat started out hot, but the Thunder weren’t nearly as cold as they have been. But a good start means nothing without a strong finish, and the Heat took game 3 with a 91-85 victory, giving them a 2-1 series lead in the finals.With Kendrick Perkins playing what most people felt to be too many minutes early on and Nick Collison’s three fouls in four minutes, OKC was at a disadvantage against a speedy Heat team. In addition, Shane “Batman” Battier continued to hit crucial threes. Derek Fisher was also hitting big shots, though, and the Heat’s halftime lead this time was much smaller than in games 1 and 2: 47-46.

In the second half, the Thunder started playing a zone defense and forced Miami to shoot jumpers. What they didn’t want was the dangerous LeBron James getting to the rim, where he nearly always gets the points.

A little over halfway through the third, the Thunder had a double-digit lead, but fouls by Ibaka and Fisher brought the Heat back. Durant’s fourth foul and Harden’s shoddy playing in the third gave the Heat an opportunity to come back even more, and the third quarter ended with a score of 69-67.

Turnovers and missed free throws by OKC, coupled with Miami’s strong D and back-to-back three-point plays, one of which gave Durant his fifth foul, gave the Heat a 7-point lead.
OKC wasn’t done yet, though. In the final minutes, Thabo Sefolosha stole the ball from D-Wade and ended the play with a reverse dunk/lay-in that brought the Thunder within 3 and probably every OKC fan out of their seats.

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With just 29 seconds left in the game, Westbrook was basically left wide open for a three, nearly defended by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, though, who was just a couple feet from Russ when he took the shot. Westbrook missed badly, and Harden then tried to draw a charge. The refs didn’t appreciate his acting as much as Thunder fans likely did, and LeBron went to the line.

He missed the first free throw, giving Thunder fans hope that this could remain a one-possession game. But he made the second, taking the Heat’s lead to 4.

When Sefolosha threw the ball away on the inbounds pass, that was the ballgame, folks.
Durant’s foul trouble kept him from playing as much and as aggressively as we’re used to seeing. He ended with 25 points but shot a surprising 2-4 from the free throw line. LeBron finished with 29 points and 14 boards, Wade scored 25, and while Bosh didn’t have a spectacular offensive night (10 points), his defense played a large part in the Miami win.

However, OKC has done a great job not dwelling on losses all season, so you can be sure that today’s practice will focus solely on game 4, which will be played Tuesday night at 9:00 EDT.

 

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