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Homer D. Sayson
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List of Articles by Homer D. Sayson


 

NBA FINALS -- Heat look to take formidable 3-1 lead

By Homer D. Sayson
PhilBoxing.com
20 Jun 2012



MIAMI -- After two games in Oklahoma City, where they salvaged a split, going home to the friendly confines of the AmericanAirlines Arena didn't necessarily squeeze the best out of the Miami Heat.

Statistically, they played their worst game in the series, connecting only 28 of 74 field goals for a tepid 37.8 percent clip. After blitzing to a 10-4 first quarter lead, the Heat trailed 64-54 late in the third quarter and nearly sabotaged their dramatic comeback by dipping into a quicksand of nine fourth quarter turnovers.

But the Big Three saved the day and ushered Miami from possible doom and into the boom of a 91-85 victory. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh scored the Heat's final 15 points in Game 3 as Miami surged ahead with a 2-1 lead in this best-of-7 championship.

While the Heat's offense has been spotty and erratic in these Finals, their doberman defense is a reliable constant. And so is their mental fortitude, which allowed them to scale the walls of a double-digit deficit in Games 2 and 3.

Underdogs in this showdown, the Heat are suddenly 2 games away from the treasured jewel that is the Larry O'Brien trophy. A win Tuesday night (10 am in Cebu City) all but guarantees that. The last 30 teams that took a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals all went on to claim the title.

The Thunder, however, are no strangers to adversity. They've faced it in the Western Conference Finals and dealt with it extremely well by winning four straight and sending the San Antonio Spurs home after trailing 2-0.

But OKC has never been hit harder. And they've never been to this giant stage, either. Makes you wonder, has the pressure finally got to this young team of spectacular 20-somethings? Has the stress of wrestling with the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs finally taken its toll?

Hard to tell. But one thing is clear, OKC isn't playing up to its potential.

The Thunder kicked their way to the NBA Finals by obliterating foes with their serial, seemingly unstoppable scoring. But their high-octane offense ran on cheap diesel in Game 3, scoring a banal 85 points and shooting just 42.9 percent from the field.

Superstar Kevin Durant sank 11 of 19 field goals for 25 points. But Boy Wonder, who has made fourth quarters his calling card, didn't come through this time. He was held to four points in the final 12 minutes, flubbed two crucial free throws, and missed a short jumper that could have shoved OKC to within 88-87 with still 1:06 to go.

And for the second Finals game in a row, Durant conducted a festival of silly, ticky tack fouls that limited his play to 38 minutes. Somebody ought to tell this brilliant young man to leash his exuberance and put a lid on those cheap fouls. His team needs him playing not watching at the sidelines.

Crucified by critics for hurling too many shots in Game 2, Russell Westbrook didn't win any fans with his so-so Game 3 effort that registered 19 points, 4 assists and 2 turnovers. He missed 10 of 18 shots and went only 1-for-4 from 3-point range.

James Harden, the usually prolific NBA Sixth Man of the Year, was godawful in Game 3. He made only 2 of 10 shots and was 0-for-4 from downtown.

OKC's Big Three and its supporting cast need to recapture the fire and passion that got them here in these Finals. If the Thunder won't answer the bell in Game 4, there will be rain in Miami soon. A rain of championship confetti. (Homer D. Sayson)


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