Heat holds on to its lead in an emotional roller coaster ride to the last minute. Determined and refusing to disappoint their fans they come out a winner . Like the stock market hinging on what happens in Greece, creating volatility in the VIX, game 3 hinged on which team could gain the lead at the end of 48 minutes. Two superpowers competing for the prize. I couldn’t watch the Thunder with one eye because I needed two eyes to keep up with the Heat.
From the beginning tip-off the Heat is off to the races. American Airlines Arena is filled with white-hot heat. A pass from Wade puts the Heat on the score board 0-2. Thabo Sefolosha # 2 quickly climbs into the paint to respond with 2 (2-2). Mario Chalmers’s past to Dewayne Wade makes it to the rim (4-4). Chris Bosh is tied up in the paint to prevent him from getting the rebound (4-4). Bosh sets up a screen to the rim. A turnover sends Wade to the rim (4-8). Heat’s shot is off, LeBron James under the rim gets assaulted by 3 defenders with arms and legs flying as he puts the rebound back (4-10). Wade contests Russel Westbrook’s shot, but Westbrook wins that debate. Kevin Durant # 35 challenges LeBron’s shot but LeBron walks away the victor with 2 (8-12). Durant gets a break on a Heat turnover and adds 2, to even the score (12-12). An outstanding pass from Wade to Bosh results in 2 (12-14). An offensive foul puts a stop to the Thunder’s lightning streak. Super fantastic passes and a cut to the rim takes Miami up 4 (12-16). LeBron hits 2. Norris Cole, energized, goes over the top, the backboard that is. Durant stretches his octopus arms and finishes with 2 (16-18). Bosh goes up but Mike Miller # 13 completes the shot. James Harden pulls the emergency brakes on LeBron, stopping him from the shot. Nick Collison fouls Mike Miller sending Miller to the line for 2 (18-22). Miller takes a hit from Collison, Miller hits the floor, and Collison hits the rim. It’s no good. LeBron gives the Thunder a dose of its own medicine, a lightning streak straight to the rim for 2 (18-24). Collison picks up a 2nd foul with 7 seconds as Udonis Haslem attempts to go to the rim. Q1 ends Miami up 6 (20-26).
Q2 Sefolosha under the rim gets away from ’LeBron’s attempted steal (22-26). LeBron dives for the rebound. On the sidelines Thunder Coach Scott Brooks gets a technical for his passion (22-28). Wade puts a stop to the Thunder’s shot. At the other end Collison picks up a 3rd foul allowing the Heat 2 at the line (24-30). Miller picks up a 3rd foul and takes a hard hit from Harden. Ouch, that hurts (27-30). A travel by sefolosha gives the Heat a break but it does not convert to a sale, Harden gets the rebound (27-30). Chalmers shoots, Bosh jumps for the rebound but gets fouled coming down. LeBron, with a rebound under the basket gets ambushed in the forest trying put it back. Mario Chalmers explodes with a steal and pass to LeBron who sends a field goal to Wade at the other end for 2. Sweet (31-33). Smooth pass from Bosh to Wade for 2. Derek Fisher # 37 fires up 3 (34-35). Kendrick Perkins # 5 at the line gives the Thunder a one-point lead (36-35). Wade under the rim jumps for 2 and gets fouled for a 3-point play (35-38). Durant over LeBron adds 2 to tie the score. A 24-second violation stops them and keeps the Heat down by 1 (39-38). Durant comes back with 2 (41-38), but Battier churns 3 to tie the score 41-41. Racing to the rim a Thunder steps on the tracks and almost gets electrocuted with a foul giving LeBron a 3-point play (41-44). Westbrook pumps 2. A quick pass from Wade, gives Battier a chance to hit 3. Westbrook responds with 3 as the half-time buzzer goes off. Heat leads by 1 (46-47)
Starting out the gate, both sides are off in Q3. Wade gets his rhythm, at the line giving the Heat a 3-point lead (46-49). Durant picks up a 3rd foul. Bosh shoots in but the ball decides to rim out. Rushed, off-center, and out of the zone, LeBron picks up his first foul. The shot clock runs out. Running down too close to the 24-second shot clock, the Heat is rushing their shots (48-49). Westbrook’s pass sends Oklahoma up by 3 (52-49). Bosh at the line brings Miami within 2. Serge Ibaka is left open and hits 3 (54-51). Westbrook runs into the paint with the ball in his right arm stretched behind his back (a one-arm Rajon Rondo move) then jumps off the diving board and splashes towards the rim for 2. Thunder playing zone against Miami, we falling apart (58-51). Chalmers leaps, “Oh, my God,” but misses the basket (60-51). Now the Thunder is falling apart, a turnover sends a pass from LeBron to Wade, then a race to the rim (60-53). After picking up a 4th foul and sending Wade to the line, Durant takes a seat on the bench with his team up 6 (60-54). LeBron is snatching rebounds. Shane Battier draws a charge against Oklahoma. But Derek Fisher comes back with 3 and draws a foul on Chalmers (64-54). LeBron goes up for a lay-up (64-56). Kevin Perkins misses 2 at the line. (The sunglass kid and his snowman hat is a helpful distraction seated in the background). But that kid can’t stop Perkins from getting 2 rebounds. Battier gets knocked to the floor by Ibaka on a 3-point shot. Q3 3:01 James Jones gets fouled but adds 3 at the line (65-62). Harden hustles through an obstacle course, extending his arms to draw a foul. Haslem snatches a rebound (66-62). James Harden makes off with a steal, and it’s on. Haslem chases him down. Wade spins then goes airborne for 2, adding 2 at the line to bring the Heat within 1 (67-66). After a jump ball LeBron hits 3 taking back Miami’s lead (67-69). Q3 ends with the Heat up by 2 (67-69).
Q4 Wade hits 2 but a turnover gives Fisher 2 in the paint (69-71). James Jones, the 3-point shooter does his thing, adding 3. Fisher, thinking he was going to the rim, gets surprised when Haslem blocks, sending the ball somewhere out of the country. Harden lobs to Durant for a slam (73-74). Chalmers drives in and makes 2 (73-76). Harden brings the Thunder within 1 at the line (75-76). Durant and Wade lose their rhythm, in back-to-back plays, Durant missing 2, one is way off. Wade loses the ball at the other end giving Harden a chance to score and take the lead (77-76). Collison fouls LeBron at the line LeBron adds 2 (77-78). Bosh blocks, the Thunder rebounds, then a 24-second violation. A risky pass to Wade makes it to its destination without pirates intercepting. (5:44 77-78). LeBron looks tired, missing the same jump shot a third time. (That late night practicing is catching up. Might consider getting some deep delta sleep, or minute-yoga exercises to give you endurance and keep you in the zone). Wade drives to the rim for 2 and draws the foul (77-81). Thunder turns over the ball but turns up the aggression, blocking Bosh. LeBron rises to the challenge driving like a locomotive to the rim – Durant steps on the train tracks with the train coming. He gets hit and is thrown all the way to the bench with his 5th foul. 3:25. LeBron drives through Perkins’ roadblock straight to the rim (79-86). Perkins steals from Chalmers giving Oklahoma 2 (83-86). Westbrook hits 3 to bring the Thunder within 1 (85-86). The Heat is on. (I’m exhausted, feeling like I’m in the game – can’t hang out tonight). Bosh adds 2 at the line with 1:19. LeBron is getting the rebounds. Westbrook goes for 2. A blocking foul on Harden trying to stop LeBron (He should know better). With 16 seconds, the players are sweating bullets. The fans don’t know whether to sit or stand. At the line, Wade adds 2 to secure the lead with 13 seconds (85-91). That remains the final score.
The Thunder walks slowly to the locker room with a look of defeat, but mumbling under their breath, “Don’t count us out”. They walk with their heads down, but don’t underestimate the passion in their hearts. The Thunder is no loser. Don’t play it safe. Things could get ugly. Find the endurance within you to keep grinding. Only 2 games stand in the way of the ultimate prize.