Keys to Game 3: Painting a win, X factors
June, 16, 2012
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
Garrett Ellwood/Getty ImagesLeBron James and Kevin Durant will try to lead their respective teams to the win in Game 3 on Sunday night.
How important is a win in Game 3? In NBA Finals series that are tied at one game apiece, the Game 3 winner has gone on to win the title 85.3 percent of the time. Here are some key factors that could decide this critical game:
In the Thunder’s Game 1 win, OKC outscored the Heat 56-40 in the paint, the second-most paint points allowed by the Heat in a playoff game in the Big Three era. Seven players scored from inside 5 feet for the Thunder, led by a postseason-high 14 from Russell Westbrook and 10 from Kevin Durant.
In the Heat’s Game 2 victory, Miami had a 48-32 advantage in the paint, the Heat’s second-largest paint points margin this postseason.
LeBron James was 9-of-16 in the paint in Game 2, and all but one of his 10 made field goals came from that range. Dwyane Wade also attacked the basket more in Game 2, going 3-of-7 from inside 5 feet after making just one of four shots from that area in Game 1.
Shane Battier has been the biggest surprise of the Finals, scoring 17 points in each of the first two games, the first time he scored in double digits in back-to-back games this season. He has made nine of 13 3-pointers, after shooting a career-worst 34 percent from long distance in the regular season.
Nick Collison scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds in 21 minutes in Game 1. But he disappeared in Game 2, scoring zero points while not attempting a shot in 14 minutes. His plus-minus of plus-21 this series is the highest of any player in the NBA Finals.
In the first two games, the Heat’s starting five have far outperformed the Thunder’s starting five. James, Wade, Battier, Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers have outscored their opponents by a team-best nine points in the 39 minutes they have been on the court together.
Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha have really struggled in their 28 minutes together on the court, having been outscored by 18 points, the worst of any lineup in the Finals.
FROM START TO FINISH
The Thunder got off to a slow start in each of the first two games of the Finals, falling behind in the first quarter by 11 points in Game 1 and 17 points in Game 2. They were able to erase the deficit in Game 1, but their comeback fell short in Game 2.
Westbrook shot a combined 5-for-20 in the first half of both games but made half his shots (15-of-30) in the second half. Durant, who averaged less than 10 points in the first half in Games 1 and 2, has taken over in the fourth quarter for the Thunder.
He has scored almost half his total points in this series in the final 12 minutes (33 of 68). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first player to score at least 16 fourth-quarter points in consecutive NBA Finals games since the ABA-NBA merger (1976-77).
Statistical support from NBA.com.