The second game of the NBA Finals followed a similar pattern as the first—a strong start by Miami followed by a second-half comeback from Oklahoma City. But this time the comeback was much more grinding, the Thunder only got one chance to tie the game and the Heat played with more discipline on the offensive end. It added up to a 100-96 win for Miami to even the series.
Miami finally figured out how to integrate the three-point shot into their lineup. They got a big game from Shane Battier behind the stripe, as he hit 5-for-7, including a banked shot at a point in the fourth quarter when the lead was down to four. But the Heat didn’t allow Battier’s success to turn the rest of the team into long-range gunners and they kept their trey attempts at a modest 14. That in turn meant LeBron James and Dwayne Wade were driving the ball to the basket and they combined for 56 points, including several clutch baskets in the lane and off the dribble.
It was Oklahoma City airing it out from downtown, as the easy fast break baskets that keyed Game 1 were no longer available and Kevin Durant spent extended periods on the bench in early foul trouble. Russell Westbrook struggled in the first half, to the point that ABC analyst Magic Johnson called it the worst half by a point guard in the Finals he’d ever seen. Strong stuff from someone who knows a little bit about playing point guard in the Finals.
But both Westbrook and Durant got going in the second half, and they combined for 59 points. Durant buried several key shots, including a cold-as-ice three-pointer that cut the lead to 98-96, a shot set up by an intelligent extra pass from Westbrook. OkC got the ball back with a chance to tie, and a terrible no-call kept Durant from going to the line. The Thunder got a rough break on the officiating last night and they were also uncharacteristically average from the free throw line themselves. 19-of-26 isn’t terrible, but OkC can do better than 73 percent. They didn’t, and that—along with the 47 percent Miami shot from the floor because they drove to the basket—are the biggest reasons this series is tied heading to South Beach on Sunday night.