Miami Heat vs Oklahoma City Thunder: NBA Finals Game 3 Live scores, blog
Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat take their talents to South Beach today for Game 3 of the 2012 NBA Finals. With the series locked at 1-1, who will claim the all-important third contest? Find out from 10am AEST and join The Roar as we take in the action live from American Airlines Arena.
Statistical history is a funny thing.
It tells us that the winner of Game 3 goes on to win the NBA title 85% of the time, which sounds like pretty good odds.
However cast your mind back just 12 months to the series between Miami and Dallas. The Heat led Game 3 all night to prevail 88-86 on the road, but ended up losing the following three, and the title, to Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks.
That’s the beauty of sports. While we revel in the endless ocean of stats, trends and data that is available at our very fingertips, the greatest anomalies can throw all of it out the window in a matter of minutes. That’s why they play the game, and that’s why we love it.
With the next three games scheduled in Florida, a home court sweep by Miami would be enough to clinch the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy without having to head back to the formidable Midwest – but don’t count on it.
Oklahoma is an athletic young side that will go to Miami bullish of taking one, perhaps two of the three and returning home to their rapturous fans.
The Thunder never recovered from an early 18-2 deficit last Thursday and while valiant in what was ultimately a narrow defeat, it’s the sort of lethargy Oklahoma can’t afford if they are to break through for the franchise’s first title (or second if you count the 1979 Seattle Sonics).
But one thing we have learned from the series so far is that this team simply does not quit.
They trailed Dallas in the opening round and won. They were in a 2-0 hole against the hottest team in the country and won. Heck, they even almost battled back from 16 down in Game 2. The Thunder are young, hungry and tenacious and won’t hit the canvas without a fight to the bitter end.
A crucial indictor within this series is the play of Russell Westbrook, one of the most polarising figures in the NBA. While there is no doubting his talent and work-ethic, questions have been asked of the dynamic point guard’s style of play.
After the Game 2 loss, Westbrook said, “I’m not making no adjustments.” [sic]
“Regardless of what anybody says, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to play my game. I’m going to go out and give 110% and help us try to win a game.”
Be that as it may, many observers suggest shooting the ball 50 times might not be the best way to achieve that, particularly with the elite supporting cast by his side. Granted Westbrook has scored 54 points, but it’s come at the cost of starving Kevin Durant – the NBA scoring leader who is accumulating more the 16 final quarter points this series – and James Harden, who had 17 first half points in game two but took just two second half shots.
On the other side of the equation LeBron James is doing exactly what he needs to in order to secure that elusive ring.
Although the series is just two games old, the NBA MVP is averaging 31.5 points per game compared to the paltry 19.5 throughout last year’s Finals (marginally more than Durant’s fourth quarter output this year).
Perhaps the biggest difference is James’ willingness to attack the lane and get to the line. LeBron converted 12/12 free throws in game two and is shooting more than 90% over the series, an area that has previously been an Achilles heel.
Miami will be looking for more from Dwayne Wade who is averaging just 22.8 points throughout the playoffs – his worst scoring output since his first post-season appearance in 2003-04. But when flanked by James and Chris Bosh, perhaps the scoring onus is not weighing as heavily on Wade’s shoulders?
He’s clearly being hampered by a sore knee, but Miami will be counting on just a few more quality starts from the man who won it all with the Heat in 2006.
So who do you have? Miami to defend their home court or Oklahoma to gain the ascendency on the road? The only thing we know for now is that in just a few hours time, someone will hold a 2-1 series lead which is good enough to win the NBA title 85% of the time – if you believe the stats…
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