The big three put the big hurt on OKC
The Heat's Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh react to a play in the second half against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFP)
Full credit to the Miami Heat for a win in Game 3.
All of their big three were there for them and they took full advantage.
But anyone thinking this series is over isn¹t watching very closely.
As good as the Heat were Sunday night in the 91-85 win to take a 2-1 lead in the series, the Thunder were rather effective accomplices in their own downfall.
Their biggest faux pas, particularly in light of what the Heat did when they went to the free throw line, was their free throw shooting.
While the Heat made good on just 15 of 24 freebies, the Heat were draining 90% of their trips to the charity stripe. In a six-point game, that¹s a huge factor.
Also big in Sunday¹s game was the Thunder¹s inability to get offence from its own third member of the big three, guard James Harden.
Harden hit just two of his 10 field goal attempts in a little more than 34 minutes of court time. While he was the lone member of the Thunder to do his part at the free throw line hitting 5-of-7, the Thunder need more than nine points from its third scoring option if it¹s going to contend with James, Bosh, and Wade.
And speaking of Wade, as good as he was at times on Sunday, he still leaves the distinct impression he¹s not operating at 100%.
Wade is not and has not been his normal attacking self. On more than one occasion on Sunday night he was sent in alone which almost always means a slam dunk, particularly at home where it can get the locals fired up.
But Wade opted for the layup and even the dunks he did have were far less than spectacular.
Now it¹s hard to complain about a 25-point effort with seven assists and seven rebounds but it¹s definitely worth watching Wade as the series progresses.
He looks very much like a player who is gutting it out and it wouldn¹t surprise at all if he announces some off-season surgery soon after the series is decided.
Oh the optics
It may very well have been the turning point in Game 3.
Playing with three fouls, Kevin Durant was defending Wade on a baseline move to the basket. It appeared Durant got into him a little with his chest but avoided any arm or hand contact as Wade¹s attempt found iron. But the whistle and the imploring look by Durant at the officials told the tale. It was foul No. 4 and with 5:41 still to go in the third, the Heat had just been gifted a long stretch in which they would not have to deal with Durant¹s offensive talents.
The problem with the play was how similar it looked to the same one that came right near the end of Game 2. Only on that play Durant was on offence and James was providing the defence. James, without question, made more contact with Durant than Durant did Sunday night with Wade on a very similar play. James was not called for the foul. Durant was.
The good and the bad
Veteran NBA official Joey Crawford doesn¹t take crap from anyone. But on this occasion he handled things just right. The Thunder¹s Serge Ibaka got a little chirpy at the free throw line and Crawford, instead of handing out a technical, told Ibaka to knock it off. He got his message across and doesn¹t impact the game. That¹s a good ref. Bad Crawford came moments later when OKC head coach Scott Brooks protests a call on the floor and Crawford T¹s him up. Call is then changed meaning Brooks got a technical for arguing a call on which he was right. Go figure.
When Nick Collison came in midway through the first quarter you would swear he¹d been told to specifically rough Mike Miller up. Almost immediately Collison hit Miller under he OKC basket and then went through him and drew the foul at the other end. For a guy with a bad back that¹s a tough 45 seconds and Miller, who hadn¹t been much of a factor to that point, was even less after it ... Got to like Charles Barkley. Magic Johnson goes off on Westbrook after Game 2. Takes plenty of Heat. Sir Charles comes back a couple of days later and says Westbrook can play on his team any day. Too easy. Just too easy ... Shane Battier was completely silent on the home court after a strong two games in OKC. But with 1:50 to go in the second quarter he made his first three-pointer. He got his second with 23 seconds left in the half and all of a sudden he was very much a part of things again ... The Boston Celtics are well into their off-season but Rajon Rondo made a cameo appearance when Russell Westbrook stole one out of Rondo¹s playbook with a pretty fake behind the back and then an aggressive drive to the unprotected basket. It was vintage Rondo but Westbrook made it look like one of his own ... Any mistakes in this copy can be attributed to a west coast U.S. Open that went head to head with Game 3 and made it very tough to stay with Game 3 as good as it was.