Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 11:22 PM
If Game One is any indication, the Miami Heat are going to be in A LOT of trouble in their NBA Championship matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Miami had a lot go right for them, yet still lost by 11 points.
*Even though Oklahoma City was the much fresher team thanks to a longer layoff since the conference finals end, it was Miami that got off to a hot start. Miami jumped to a 13-point lead in the first half, yet still lost by double digits.
*Even though James Harden was virtually invisible for the Thunder, Miami still fell apart in the second half. He’s going to play better from this point forward. How’s Miami going to fare when Oklahoma City IMPROVES?!
*Even though Miami role players really stepped up in the first half and drained their shots, all it got the Heat was a temporary lead that evaporated as soon as those shots stopped falling. The Heat can’t assume their role players are going to hit 50% of their treys for an entire game…for four games in the six that are left.
*Dwyane Wade is playing a step slower than normal, probably because of the nagging knee injury that made news in the last round. This was most noticeable on defense, where he had trouble staying with faster members of the Heat. It’s not like Wade’s knee is going to get better unless he has it drained again during the three-day break between Games Two and Three.
*LeBron James played well. Nobody could say he disappeared in the fourth quarter. He may not have accumulated big numbers in crunch time…but he was doing what he could to attack against a well-designed OKC defense that bottled him up. LeBron didn’t shrink from the moment by any means, yet the team still lost by double digits!
*Oklahoma City played NERVOUS for a half, and still won easily at the end. They’re not going to be nervous in Game Two…and may not have to deal with any sort of crisis in confidence until it’s time to win the series (which we saw in the first half of Game Six vs. San Antonio, which mirrored Game One vs. Miami in many ways). The experience edge for Miami is gone. OKC is over its temporary fear.
What adjustments does Miami make from this point forward? Ask LeBron to score 50? Ask the role players to make 10 treys per game? Ask James Harden to wear street clothes the next two weeks?
In terms of coming back to win the series, the focus probably needs to be on these keys:
*Getting fewer bad shots out of Wade. That may not be possible if his knee won’t allow it. But, the ONLY clear area for improvement from this point forward offensively is for Wade to go back to being a younger, healthier version of himself. He has some upside.
*Playing better defense late in close games. There’s actually tremendous upside here because this is one of the most glaring unreported weaknesses of the Heat. Dallas crushed them late in the game last year, and Oklahoma City was dominant again Tuesday. The media needs to spend more time focusing on Miami’s defensive breakdowns and less on LeBron’s facial expressions.
*Getting inside the head of Russell Westbrook. Dallas did this when they knocked off OKC last year in the Western finals. If you can get Westbrook forcing up bad shots and making turnovers…then you have a chance to derail the Thunder’s offensive rhythm. Given what we’ve seen this year in the playoffs, that may be the only thing that has a chance of working!
Those issues are about winning the series straight up. Miami can still cover some spreads even if they’re destined to fall in this series. Can the Heat stay within five points Thursday Night in Game Two? Let’s focus on that question from this point forward in today’s NOTEBOOK entry.
OKLAHOMA CITY vs. MIAMI
Game Two Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 5, total of 196
Oklahoma City leads 1-0
The team side line hasn’t moved from Game One, at least as of press time for us. The general tendency for the whole world to bet the underdog in a bounce back hasn’t materialized. This represents VERY strong support for Oklahoma City in terms of being seen as the superior team. Professional wagerers, most of whom took the Thunder to win the series initially, didn’t see any reason to back Miami in the bounce back. And, the segment of the public that loves betting on LeBron may have lost the stomach for that in championship games given what happened last year and then Tuesday. We would anticipate some LeBron support in Game Three at home.
The total is up a point after Game One landed on 199. This is not seen as a classic defensive-minded series with the strong scoring talent on the floor. We’re due for some heavier free throw games too given that only 45 were attempted Tuesday with teams who love flying at the basket.
JIM HURLEY is working closely with his sources to build on the side and total sweep NETWORK clients enjoyed back in Game One. He feels very much in synch with both teams right now, and is planning on stepping out with something special Thursday. Be sure you read the home page of this website for complete details in the hours leading up to the game.
GAME ONE SUMMARY
OKLAHOMA CITY 105, MIAMI 94
Field Goal Pct: Miami 46%, Oklahoma City 52%
Three-Pointers: Miami 8/19, Oklahoma City 5/17
Free Throws: Miami 14/18, Oklahoma City 20/27
Rebounds: Miami 35, Oklahoma City 43
Turnovers: Miami 10, Oklahoma City 10
Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 5, total of 195
It’s a very bad sign for Miami that they won treys by nine points in a game they lost by 11. That means they lost everything else by 20 points. And, it’s not like they can assume they’re going to win the battle of treys every night. As great as LeBron James is…and as strong as Miami is inside by Eastern Conference standards…they’re in real trouble here against the best of the West. Miami needed treys just to avoid getting routed. They lost rebounding. They lost free throws. They couldn’t win turnovers even though they held a nice early edge there.
If you’re a fan of OKC this is a beautiful boxscore. You won all the stats that mattered, and there’s a good chance you can keep it going because Harden is likely to play better and the trey rate may go up.
If you’re a handicapper, you have to determine if five points is too low given what we saw Tuesday….or too high given what we know about playoff history. Is Miami a championship-type team that’s going to show its true mettle and bounce back with an outright victory? Or, is this more like a superpower against an also-ran…and Miami’s about to get steamrollered in a four or five-game quickie? Frankly, the stats say one thing…while history is more on the side of the underdog bouncing back.
The best advice…don’t make a move until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say! You can get the Game Two essentials right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to take care of business EARLY on Thursday so you can re-invest day baseball winnings on the night time best bets.
EARLY BASEBALL HIGHLIGHTS
Cleveland at Cincinnati
NY Mets at Tampa Bay
Detroit at Chicago Cubs
PRIME TIME BASEBALL HIGHLIGHTS
Chicago White Sox at St. Louis
Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Back with you Friday in the NOTEBOOK to talk about a big weekend in Interleague play that includes the surging Yankees visitng the red hot Nationals, and a matchup for the history books when the Boston Red Sox visit the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley.
The sports world is sizzling right now. Be sure you GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY!