Head to Head, Neck to Neck
There was no lack for smiles as the Big Three fronted the parade around Miami celebrating the first of their prophesied “more than seven” championships for the city.
Jubilation is an understatement for the emotions LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade were showing. In the same level of it, however, is the relief that this year, they were better than their opponents; albeit only by a margin close enough for a photo finish
After all, the 2012 NBA Finals, as it should always be, was only decided in the fourth quarter.
With the exception of the penultimate Game 5, when anything and everything simply went the Miami Heat’s way, all games in the championship round was a toss-up after three quarters.
In an even-keeled battle, the fourth was indeed the definitive quarter. As sports
always calls upon heroes to come through in the clutch, so did both Miami and OKC hail their cornerstones to lead them to victory.
The Thunder struck first by outscoring the Heat 31 to 21 in the fourth quarter of Game 1 after leading by a solitary point after the third. OKC franchise player Kevin Durant led the way with 6/10 shooting. Miami lead man LeBron James shot 2/6; prompting sports writers to claim that the clutch three-time scoring champion
schooled the again heart-unproven three-time Most Valuable Player in how to win games.
Leading by 11 points after three, Miami held on to claim Game 2 despite being outscored 29 to 22 in the fourth. Durant led the rally that fell short, going 5/8 from the field. James, in spite of shooting only 1/4, was salvaged by a 30-point output in quarters one to three.
Trailing only by 2 as the third period ended, OKC allowed Miami’s lead to balloon to 6 as the final buzzer of Game 3 sounded. For the first time in the entire playofs, Durant turned sour in the clutch: 2/6. James fared only a tad better, making half of his 4 shots.
Game 4 only continued the Heat’s outperforming the Thunder in the clutch, still outscoring them 23 to 25 in the fourth quarter even after already being ahead by 5 after the third. Durant shot only three times, making two while James shot 2/6.
In the end, Miami won the championship by winning the first three quarters of 4/5 games and, more importantly, proving clutch in 3/5 fourth quarters. But as their smiles
are telling us, they know themselves that they got through by being just a little better.
Being a little better perhaps due to undoubtedly being more seasoned than the average-age-of-24 OKC. Let’s talk again next year when both teams get a year older and wiser, and see if the gap between them is still needing of a photo finish.