For Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, it’s not how you start the game, but how you end it. Down by as many as 13 points in the second quarter and seven points at halftime, the Thunder rallied for a 105-94 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
Oklahoma City continued its dominance in “Loud City”, improving to 9-0 at home in the postseason, which ties the 1978 team for the longest home win streak to start a postseason in franchise history.
DURANT DOMINATES FOURTH
Durant exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 of his game-high 36 points in the final 12 minutes. Durant’s 17 points in the final quarter are tied for the most fourth-quarter points in an NBA Finals game over the last 15 postseasons.
Most Points in NBA Finals Debut
Since ABA-NBA Merger ('76-77)
At 23 years and 257 days old, Durant nearly made history with his 36-point effort. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he is the fourth-youngest to score at least 35 points in a NBA Finals game, behind Magic Johnson (20 years old), Tom Heinsohn (22 years old) and Rick Barry (23 years old, 7 days).
HOW THE THUNDER WON
The Thunder outscored the Heat 58-40 in the final 24 minutes, as Durant and Russell Westbrook took over the game. The OKC duo outscored the Heat by themselves in the second half, 41-40, combining to make 14-of-27 field goals and 11-of-13 free throws.
Offense Inside 5 Feet
NBA Finals Game 1
Durant and Westbrook combined for 63 points in Game 1, matching Julius Erving and Doug Collins for the most combined points by a duo in their NBA Finals debut, according to Elias.
The Thunder outscored the Heat by 20 points inside of five feet, as seven different players scored from this range for the Thunder. The 48 points scored and 13 assists inside five feet are the most by a Thunder team in the last three postseasons.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR HEAT
The Heat made 9-of-15 field goals from 10 feet and beyond in the first quarter of Game 1 but were just 7-of-31 from distance the rest of the game. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined to go 9-of-35 on such shots in the game.
LeBron James by Defender
NBA Finals Game 1
James was primarily guarded by Durant in the first three quarters of Game 1, but in the fourth quarter, Thabo Sefolosha got the call.
James scored 17 of his 30 points on 58 percent shooting against Durant, but was held to seven points on 29 percent shooting against Sefolosha.
James, Bosh and Wade got plenty of help in the first half with “Non-Big 3” players scoring 27 of the Heat’s 54 points on 11-of-17 shooting. But the supporting cast disappeared in the second half, tallying only eight points while taking just seven shots.
The Heat were outscored in transition by 14 points in Game 1, continuing a bad trend for Miami. The Heat have been outscored in transition in all of their losses this postseason, scoring nearly seven fewer points per game.
How important is winning the first game of the NBA Finals? Teams to go up 1-0 in the NBA Finals have won the title 72.3 percent of the time (47 wins, 18 losses).