Round 1 of the dream superstar showdown in the NBA Finals went to Kevin Durant, decisively.
The Durantula scored 17 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter last night, as the OKC Thunder took the opener of the series after trailing throughout the first half.
OKC’s young guns showed impressive poise down the stretch, before cruising past a seemingly tired Miami Heat team (which had just survived a grueling 7-game series against the Boston Celtics.)
From the Sun-Sentinel:
And, just like that, there was a 105-94 loss Tuesday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena and a 1-0 deficit in these best-of-seven NBA Finals. “We were thinking we were putting ourselves in a position to win, and then they just went away,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. More to the point, Thunder forward Kevin Durant took it away, scoring 17 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter. It was the second-highest-scoring Finals debut, behind only the 48 points of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson. “We need to keep our bodies in front of him,” Spoelstra said of Durant, “but that’s much easier said than done.”
Durant said it took a relentless approach to overcome the Heat and LeBron James. “Every time out, our coaches were saying, ‘Play harder! Play harder!” and that’s what we did.” Especially Durant. “We just had to make a second effort,” he said. “The only adjustment we made was playing harder. It’s a team game. Everybody has to come to play. Everybody played hard in the second half.”
The Miami Heat will need more production from people not named LeBron James going forward. LBJ chipped in 30 points and 9 boards last night, but got very little support from his teammates in the second half when the Thunder made their run.
It’s still very early in the series, and it would behoove everyone not to overreact to the Game 1 outcome. That being said, Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder sent an unmistakable message last night: they are very much in the driver’s seat.