We have reached the end of the line. There would be no more close calls, arguable referee fouls, or missed free throws. The Heat exploded past the Thunder in Game 5 and concluded the series with the most dominant close-out game since the 2008 Finals.
32 points on 13-24 shooting, 11 REB, 3 AST, 2 ST, 1 BL, 7 TO
Kevin Durant came out in Game 5 looking to press the issue. He realized early on that he could not play a game where he let the offense come to him; he was going to have to take it to the Heat. For 2.5 quarters, his effort was rewarded. Durant attacked the rim, posted up LeBron James, and looked like he would be able to stay in a game where he'd have a meaningful impact. Unfortunately, Durant was undone by his turnovers, which hit a high point for the series. In particular, his turnover early in the 3rd ended a possession where OKC could have trimmed the lead to a single possession. Instead, Miami ripped off 2 straight 3-pointers and the lead was never in doubt again.
19 points on 4-20 shooting, 4 REB, 6 AST, 2 ST, 2 TO
|Russell Westbrook had a bad shooting night, but really his game needs to be divided into the two halves. Even though he was not shooting well in the 1st half, he was still attacking the rim and finally earning some favorable foul calls. In total, Westbrook shot 11-13 from the FT line, and that was enough to keep his team in contention. Unfortunately, everything fell apart after Miami's big run in the 3rd. It was at that point where the Thunder stopped executing anything resembling a plan, and their offense devolved into quick 3-point attempts every possession. Westbrook missed all 5 of his attempts.|
19 points on 5-11 shooting, 4 REB, 5 AST, 2 ST, 3 TO
|Well, at least James Harden played better than his previous two games. However, don't let the final numbers fool you; much of it was stat-padding at the end. When things mattered most, Harden still struggled with his shooting touch. Once again he missed open 3-pointers, shots at the rim, and continued to turn the ball over. I believe Harden more than anybody is going to have a long summer of reflection after coming up so small when it mattered most.|
More grades after the jump.
9 points on 3-9 shooting, 4 REB, 2 BL, 0 TO
|Pat Riley once said, "no rebounds, no rings." Serge Ibaka should be the team's best offensive and defensive rebounder, and yet he did not do the one thing that the team needed most out of him. To be sure the Heat never completely dominated the boards, but by Ibaka totaling such poor rebounding numbers it meant that his teammate Durant had to stay on the blocks to prevent the Heat from gobbling up ORB's. On top of that, Ibaka's shot-blocking fell way off in the Finals. Against a team that tends to shoot poorly from the outside, Ibaka should have feasted on LeBron & Wade's drives to the rim, Ibaka came up small in this area as well.|
11 points on 4-7 shooting, 4 REB, 3 AST, 0 TO
|Derek Fisher finished his Finals on an up-note, but his ring total remains at 5. He shot well, did not turn the ball over, and kept fighting until the end, but I can never get over this lingering feeling that Fisher just could not give OKC what it really needed in those big moments. And it wasn't veteran leadership, it was the ability to play well.|
2 points on 1-4 shooting, 4 REB, 1 ST, 1 TO
|Kendrick Perkins concluded his 3rd Finals appearance with a whimper, where the Heat offense repeatedly pummeled the OKC interior. Perkins struggled mightily against the quicker Chris Bosh, who took Perkins off the dribble and straight to the rack on several occasions. Nobody was stopping the Heat offense on this night, but a little more defensive focus couldn't have hurt.|
0 points in only 9 minutes
|Thabo Sefolosha finished his Finals experience by logging only 9 minutes in a game where the key facet of the Heat's win was their perimeter game. I don't suppose a long and agile perimeter defender could have helped out in that regard? Nah, better to keep Fisher in there.|
2 points on 1-3 shooting, 4 REB, 1 AST
|I am a broken record at this point. Neither Perkins nor Ibaka were having a defensive impact in this game, but Nick Collison once again appeared to be the best option and still only played 17 minutes. I don't know if we'll ever understand why Collison was used so little against a team which he plays so well against.|
Royal Ivey, Lazar Hayward, Cole Aldrich, and Daequan Cook finished out the game when Brooks finally pulled his starters off the floor. As Royal Ivey alluded to in an exclusive interview with WTLC, they just wanted to finish the game with dignity by playing hard, and that's what they did. In fact the greatest disservice toward the Heat that the end-of-bench subs could have done is to NOT take the final moments seriously. Fortunately, everyone played hard to the end.
Scott Brooks had his team in the proper mindset early on, and that is something worth recognizing. Even though they were being out-shot on the floor the entire half, his team managed to maintain its intensity and always kept the game within arm's length. However, once the 3rd quarter massacre got underway, it was clear that Brooks had no plan in place for how to deal with a huge deficit. Rational thought might say that the best way to catch up is by getting to the free throw line a bunch of times, since the shots are unguarded and the clock is stopped. And yet, after the Heat run, the Thunder only attempted 4 free throws the rest of the game. There was no plan in place, and every Thunder player acted as such.
All that said, Brooks is still a coach that had his players end the moment with dignity, and for that he deserves praise.