By Lee Dover
Miami Heat are not a team who take defeat very well – this much has been evident in the way they have literally stolen the thunder from Oklahoma City.
The start of the NBA Finals left basketball fans reaching to pick their jaws off the floor after Oklahoma City Thunder raced to a 1-0 lead over the Heat with an impressive 105-94 victory.
Kevin Durant proved to be a force which was far too hot for Erik Spoelstra and company to handle, as he danced around the court to claim 36 points.
However, the Heat turned up the mercury two nights later. Durant may have scored another 32 points but LeBron James equalled his rival’s points tally and had a stronger team behind him to win the match 100-96.
LeBron was only getting the party started in the second game though, which was evident when he scored another 29 points as the Heat sneaked to a 91-85 win when the Thunder came knocking in Miami for the third game of the seven-match series.
So what has caused LeBron to step up his game once more and achieve an unrivalled average of 30.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in the Finals, as well as becoming Paddy Power’s 4/7 favourite to be the championship’s MVP? Bizarrely enough, a lower-abdominal strain suffered by teammate Chris Bosh.
The three-time MVP explained: “I understood I had to change my approach both offensively and defensively.
“I had to rebound more, I had to attack more, get into the paint more, to make up the difference with Chris being out. I just had to change, and it’s kind of stayed that way since he got back.”
OK, so LeBron has not been going around the training court with the intention of putting his teammates on the sidelines. But, as the old saying goes, when one door closes another one opens.
The Thunder’s head coach Scott Brooks is not going to allow the Heat to walk their way to another NBA title though, with the team looking to slam the door in the faces of their Florida-based opponents tonight.
“We feel that we had a chance to win the [third] game and we’ll try to get better from it and move onto the next game,” he said as a rallying call to his Oklahoman troops.
If you believe Brooks’ passion will deliver the results, why not put your money where your mouth is and take Paddy Power’s odds of 8/5 that the Thunder will turn things around and ride to a series victory?