Found June 13, 2012 on
Fox Sports Florida:
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.
Miami lost Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night 105-94 at Oklahoma City to fall behind for a third straight series. The Heat, of course, came back to win the previous two series or else they wouldn't still be playing.
Nobody on the Heat had 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," Heat guard Dwyane Wade had said nonchalantly before the Heat pulled out Games 6 and 7 in dramatic fashion to oust the Celtics.
The 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 a Udonis Haslem 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 the loss, "I'm not worried about it."
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra should have more to worry about. He'll be second guessed for only playing six guys in Game 1 more than 10 minutes. Then again, what would a Heat series be these days without Spoelstra getting heat?
The strange thing Tuesday was it was the Heat who had wrapped up the grueling Boston series last Saturday in seven games and then had to fly 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.
"I'll probably try to go a little bit deeper in Game 2," said Spoelstra, who used just eight players Tuesday, including Joel Anthony, who logged just two minutes.
Expect Bosh also to be inserted back into the starting lineup for Game 2. You can't question Spoelstra on Tuesday 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 three-point range and scoring 17 points.
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 career scoring average in such games compared to a 29.4 average in all his other career playoff games.
But 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 disappointment.
"We're a better defensive team than we showed tonight," Spoelstra said after Oklahoma City shot 51.9 percent and after watching Thunder forward Kevin Durant shred the Heat for 36 points, 17 in the fourth quarter, and guard 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.
It 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 4-2. So that's one reason why Wade, when Miami is facing adversity, makes like Alfred E. Neuman and says, "What, me worry?"
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson
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