Sunday, June 17, 2012

2012 NBA Finals: Game 3 - Running Diary of LeBron James

Game 3

What an unbelievable game 2. We saw a hungry Miami team jumping out to an early lead, and OKC fighting all game to miraculously get back to within two points. On the Thunder's final possession, it appeared that LeBron fouled Durant as he was rising for a game-tying baseline jumper. Whether it was or not, it wasn't called, and as I've learned from many heartbreaks in the past ... you can't play the "what if" game. Now the series is going back to South Beach tied at one game a piece. LeBron has put his team in position to win both games. In the first game, Wade didn't show up and they lost. In the second game, he looked much more aggressive and they won. You can basically pencil in 30 points from LeBron from here on out -- it's up to the other guys to come through. I expect a solid offensive game from Chalmers or Haslem tonight, especially since it will be played in the friendly confines of the American Airlines Arena. Role players tend to play better at home.

Side note: I am so disappointed in Tiger Woods. The one bright spot is that I don't have to keep one eye on the US Open and one eye on the basketball game anymore. Thanks for making it easy on me, Tiger. By sucking.

6:35 PM - It's 30 minutes before tip-off and LeBron is in the post working on his turnaround jumper. This is a good sign since everyone knows that whenever he settles for outside jump shots, he's giving the Thunder a free pass on the defensive end.

6:52 PM - Both teams are in their respective lay up lines as they get ready for player introductions and the Star Spangled Banner. The players look relatively relaxed; I'm excited to see how they come out in game 3. Happy Father's Day, everyone!
6:57 PM - The arena plays a slowed down version of the piano introduction of Kanye West's "All of the Lights" for the Thunder players then bumps a Kanye West remix for their own introductions. I WISH I WAS IN MIAMI!! 'Ye doing it big!
7:00 PM - I must admit, the ABC video montage is growing on me. The only thing they need to change are the voice-overs. I have to move on from the greatness that was the NBA on NBC.
7:07 PM - LeBron wins the tip against Ibaka to begin the game. Then on defense, he starts out guarding Kevin Durant. Is there anything this guy can't do???
7:13 PM - This is the most energy I've seen from a Heat crowd all year. They are notoriously known for being reserved, always late, and just downright horrible. The fact that Bosh has two dunks, Wade a layup, and LeBron an offensive rebound and putback has something to do with that. Timeout OKC after a quick 8-0 run by Miami.
7:21 PM - 3 mins left in the first quarter and Miami is up 16-14. OKC is hanging tough. The ball movement from the Miami Heat is a thing to watch right now. Are they really becoming a legitimate team right before our eyes?
7:34 PM - Miami up 26-20 at the end of the first quarter. LeBron with 10 points and 5 rebounds. The Miami coaching staff finally figured something out. When Harden is guarding LeBron, run him off screens and get him in the post. Harden doesn't play defense, he just flops.
7:42 PM - Jeff Van Gundy is spittin' truth right now. Get rid of block/charge fouls please! Just let the guys play ball.
7:46 PM - Commercial break update: Tiger Woods is sucking so bad today that the US Open coverage isn't even showing him on TV anymore.
7:53 PM - After sitting for 4 minutes in the second quarter, LeBron comes in and instantly makes an impact on the game. An offensive rebound to draw a two-shot foul and a quick outlet to Wade for an uncontested dunk. Speaking of Wade, his energy level is awesome tonight. Can he keep it up?
8:02 PM - I'm really impressed with OKC tonight. Miami is obviously trying to knock them out with tons of energy but the Thunder look poised and are not panicking.
8:11 PM - Miami up 47-46 at the end of the first half. LeBron with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists. He's dominating the paint. He's getting layups, offensive rebounds, putbacks, and everything else in between. Has he realized that nobody in the world can match him physically? Again, Westbrook's aggressive nature is really hurting Miami. He is the engine of this Thunder team. Battier with two timely three-pointers in the last two minutes to keep the Heat ahead.
8:36 PM - Miami with four straight horrible possessions to come out of the half. OKC has tightened down defensively, forcing Miami into tough shots. They have overtaken the lead and are up by 3.
8:45 PM - The Thunder have switched to zone! The Mavericks created the blueprint during last year's finals. Miami looks out of sorts. With under 6 minutes left, Wade draws Durant's fourth foul! No other way to put it -- a bonafide BS call. This is the problem with the NBA: the refs have too much power.
9:06 PM - Miami up 69-67 at the end of the third quarter. LeBron with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists. A couple bad plays by Thunder defenders fouling Miami Heat three-point shooters. That's just giving them free points. Durant sat for most of the third quarter. He will have tons of energy in the final frame (not like he needs it, he owns the 4th).
9:12 PM - Harden with a beautiful alley-oop pass to Mr. 4th Quarter, Kevin Durant. Timeout Miami. LeBron must attack.
9:21 PM - With 6 minutes left in the game, Miami is up 78-77. I love how the refs are letting them play. There's tons of contact between Lebron and Harden that is not being called, and Wade crying for fouls isn't working either.
9:23 PM - Commercial break update: Jim Furyk just completely mishit a bunker shot on the 18th to end his chances at another US Open title. Graeme McDowell with a birdie putt to tie Webb Simpson to force a playoff -- no good. They just cut to Webb and his wife as they were watching the putt in the clubhouse. That is so cute! I am now a Webb fan. He was so calm and collected. That is pure swag. Congratulations, Webb Simpson.
9:29 PM - LEBRON WITH AN AND 1 LAY UP ON DURANT!! Miami's lead is now up to 7 points with 3 minutes and 45 seconds left. That's 5 fouls on Durant. Still plenty of time for OKC to get back in it. Don't forget about Mr. Durant.
9:34 PM - Bosh with a huge offensive rebound to give Miami another possession. It ends up being a 24 second shot clock violation. That is their 8th turnover just in the 4th quarter.
9:35 PM - LEBRON WITH AN ATTACKING LAY UP. Miami back up seven with just over two minutes left in the game.
9:37 PM - Wade with another careless turnover. He's had a very costly turnover down the stretch in two games in a row now. Six points in a row by OKC. Miami's lead is down to just a point. Time out. Please just play through LeBron James.
9:43 PM - LeBron with a pass to Bosh to draw a foul. LeBron with amazing defense on Durant to force him to a horrible shot. LeBron draws a foul on James "Flopping" Harden. Misses the first free throw, makes the second. The lead is now up to four points with 16 seconds left.
9:45 PM - Game over! Miami up 2-1 in the series. LeBron with 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists.

The stories of tonight's game are: 1) OKC switching to the 2-3 zone on defense -- it really put Miami in a funk and allowed them to take the lead in the third quarter; and 2) Thabo Sefolosha. Did Pat Riley pay him off? Barring his steal on Wade, it was probably the worst game I've seen from him during this postseason.

In my opinion, this was arguably LeBron's most important performance in his career to date. There is no denying he willed his team to win tonight. Scoring, rebounding, running the offense, defending the league's best scorer, leading huddles, etc. To those who admire Jordan's competitiveness and will to win but hate LeBron, you can't say much after tonight.

All times are Central Standard Time.
Photo content courtesy of: Getty Images

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Looking forward to another exciting second half!

Great game, but I absolutely hate that the bonafide BS call on KD completely swung the game.

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