* The first half was the sort of Heat action that I kind of expected and feared, as somebody cheering for the Thunder. LeBron initiated the offense, finding open shooters behind the 3-point line. Miami led by 7 at the half, with Battier shooting 5-6 from the floor, including 3-4 from behind the arc. Shane only took 3 shots in the 2nd Half, making 1 three-pointer. Mario Chalmers, who had 10 points in the first half, took a single shot–a made layup–in the 2nd Half. Whether Miami was forcing plays that ended in shots for LeBron and Wade, or Oklahoma’s defense dictated that result, the 2nd Half was an example of how Miami could get swept in this series. If LeBron’s team isn’t taking 3-pointers, he had better score 50 to make up for it. In this game, we saw the worst of the LeBron & Wade, oil-and-water mix of talents. Wade had no idea when to shoot or defer and there was an awkwardness to their sets which left the role players one part baffled and another part scared. One solution: play each of LeBron and Wade fewer minutes, with longer stretches of being The Man, out there. LeBron played an unrealistically-high 46 minutes. Wade played 42. Rather than use Bosh as a 6th Man, put Wade there. Or take Wade out after 6 minutes the way that Doc Rivers does with KG. Miami needs to use James Jones as a floor-spreader. He didn’t play in Game 1.
* James Harden’s Max Contract has been a talking point of these Playoffs. James played all of 22 minutes in Game 1. Thabo Sefolosha, a veteran player set to earn less than $4M per year for each of the next two seasons, played 29 minutes in Game 1. The reason for this, of course, is defense. While Thabo can defend LeBron James somewhat effectively, Harden sometimes gets lost on defense. In Game 6 versus the Spurs, Harden continually allowed Stephen Jackson to bomb threes, helping the Spurs build a big lead in the first half. In last night’s 3rd Quarter, Harden got lost while guarding Battier, allowing Shane’s only basket of the 2nd Half at a point when Miami extended its lead to 5 for the second-to-last time in the game. A few possessions later, he fouled Wade on a shot, before being subbed out for Thabo. Harden wouldn’t see the floor again until 2:44 remained in the 4th Quarter. Derek Fisher–a less-gifted but more defensively-aware player–took many of the Harden minutes in the big 4th Quarter that saw OKC extend its lead.
* Nick Collison is such a great role player. In 22 minutes he was a +13. In a key 2nd Half possession, he slapped out an offensive rebound that led to a huge trey from Durant. He dives on the floor for loose balls and finishes putbacks and dunks around the basket when his superstar teammates set him up. Miami has no counterpart for what Collison does for his team.