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- Published on Friday, 22 June 2012 11:41
Daily Elk Citian
As the Miami Heat buried the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, my stomach began to turn. It was with 11:03 left in the third quarter when, amazingly, the Thunder were within five points even after the disparity in 3-point shooting throughout the game.
But something happened after that point which simply seemed like a matter of nature. I got the uneasy feeling I usually get when I watch a nature show, and a lion picks out the youngest, least experienced zebra out of the herd to eat for lunch.
I’ll yell at the TV for the camera man to, “Shoot the lion! Save the zebra!”
But then I rationalize the situation and know that you cannot stop a hungry lion from getting what it wants, and needs for survival. In the third quarter Thursday night, Miami was simply one hungry jungle cat.
When the Thunder closed the gap, the mighty beast inside the Heat simply woke up and devoured what was left of its opponent.
It hit five of its NBA Finals record 14 treys in the third quarter. The Heat went 11-of-17 from the field and hit 10 free-throws in opening an incredible 27-point lead.
There was no question who would win after that.
I just couldn’t help but feel for the Thunder. Miami had been here before, and played loosely and fearless. The Heat simply poured it on the guys who were in an unexplored land. Oklahoma City was forced into a mad scramble.
The Thunder were firing up wild 3-pointers, clearly looking shocked and unsure of how to handle the situation. Even Derek Fisher, who was supposed to be the experienced one of the group, jacked up shots.
In the end, besides Miami’s incredibly consistent 3-point shooting, experience was the bottom line to this series.
Until Game 5, the Thunder were in every single game against the mighty Heat, but just couldn’t get the production from their role players to get them over the hump.
The Heat bench and others not named Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh, played spectacular at key moments in this series. It was because they were comfortable in the moment, while the OKC role players looked tight in every way. James Harden looked like he had “pressure” written on his forehead.
OK, enough about the negatives on Thursday. It was an amazing year for this classy Thunder team, and it will be back in this position, no doubt about that.
I really enjoyed watching Kevin Durant’s embrace with his parents following the game. It was at least a 30 second hug, with likely a few tears mixed in. I feel confident if Durant and Russell Westbrook stay together, they will get their rings. They pour their heart and souls into the game much like James and Wade do.
This year, the Heat were poised and ready to pounce on someone. Any lesser team would have eaten in one chomp, but the Thunder made Miami work for their kill. They are still young, and from the starters all the way down to the side of the bench which Scotty Brooks sits, everyone will learn from this experience.
It’s no stretch to say that, in the years to come, if this Thunder team stays intact, it will grow and be a force to reckon with.
Then, they’ll be the hunters, not the hunted.