by Channing Kapin, Contributing Writer
As a basketball fan with no horse in the rodeo, I thought Game 2 was excellent. It followed the same script as Game 1, with Miami jumping out to a big lead, but this time they tenaciously held onto it to win this time. So they accomplished their mission, win one in Oklahoma. Both games were close enough to suggest that Oklahoma could and should win in Miami. Both games have lived up to their “Best Young Superstars in the Game” billing.
James played Durant even, but the difference maker in this game was Wade who had a great game, looking like his unstoppable self in the 4th quarter. During the Thunder comeback in Game 1, they attacked the basket and got easy points on dribble penetrations. In Game 2 the ferocious Miami defense kept them shooting mostly outside jumpers for much of the 3rd and 4th quarters. Just as they made Boston look bad in games 6 and 7. Another key storyline in this game was Durant got into foul trouble early, allowing LeBron a bit of extra rest.
I’m not going to complain about the officiating, just whimper quietly that the reffing in the NBA Playoffs has been uniformly bad, with no apparent urgency by the league to improve it. They’ve talked about looking into fixing the flopping which is super-fantastic in my book, but how do you change the charge-no charge rules to make it easier to officiate? To their credit the officials used the replay correctly in one of the most critical plays in the game, calling an out of bounds tip on Sefalosha with the Thunder down by only two. Also, if the Thunder are going to gripe about not getting calls, try not to get down by 17 in the Third Quarter, okay?
That being said, I don’t see how you don’t call a foul on LeBron in the last play of the game, draped all over Durant, hitting him with a body, an elbow, then a full body swipe, just to make sure. I wish they were just consistent in their horrible reffing, because how can they call a foul when Wade goes untouched for a layup and gets an extra special trip to the line just minutes earlier?
I will say that on the last play of the game, Durant absolutely, positively has to drive to the basket and get to the rim. I know that floating jumper is a bread-and-butter shot for him, but if you drive to the rim you have much more likelihood of getting an and-1, when you’re down by two. So yeah, crappy call, but I think from here on out you’ll see Durant dunking on people in that situation.
I don’t remember when sometime last week I heard one of the announcers stating that LeBron plays really well with a big lead. Well, duh, who doesn’t like to play with a big lead? Maybe not the Warriors, because they sure as hell never have big leads. There is a little credence to that as the Miami strategy in both games seems to try and get out of the gates as fast as possible, get a big lead, then sit on it. But then again, who doesn’t want to try and get a big lead early? I’m impressed with Miami’s determination to attack the rim and run the ball, even though it seemingly plays into the Thunder’s offensive advantage. I’m also impressed with Shane Battier, who is playing like a dude who’s spent his entire long career not getting to the Finals and he says, “Screw it, man. I came here to win. I’m here. Let’s win it so I can retire a champion.” He’s on fire right now, and a big reason the Heat won 3 out of their last 4 games.
So finally, I’m going to make a wild and wacky proposal for future replay. I don’t want to see more fouls called and more timeouts to watch replays going forward. How about we let them play, then in the commercial time outs just come back and have an adjusted score. They do that anyways with questionable 3 pointers. “Was it a 2 or a 3? You got a bonus point after the time out.” But in this way you adjust 2-3 calls: “That play was really an offensive foul, so those points come off the board. A shooter was fouled that we didn’t call, so he gets two deadball free throws and then boom, we’re back in the action.
And feel free to shoot the free throws during the time outs. Honestly, who likes to watch those?