Experience is beginning to trump youth and the veteran-laden Heat try to gain firm control of the NBA Finals against the slipping Oklahoma Thunder when Game Four is played Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time) in Miami.
The Heat are two wins away from the crown and two more games are set at American Airlines Arena, where the team has won four straight to win the 2006 title. And the home squad is looking to seal the deal at home and prevent the best-of seven series from moving back to Oklahoma City.
The Thunder had shown they can crawl back from an 0-2 hole when they recovered to win the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio, but that was a different setup— a 2-2-1-1-1 home-away series that allowed them to even the series at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Game Four.
Now the Thunder try to bounce back from two straight losses and solve its end game issues that caused a 10-point lead to turn into a 85-91 loss in Game Three.
Dwyane Wade and crew managed to score scrambling wins, taking Game Three despite an awful 37.8 percent shooting. In Game Two, the Heat survived a late Thunder strike, LeBron James managing to keep an arm on Kevin Durant and away from the eyes of the referees to avert disaster.
Two games to one.
Now the Oklahoma 23-and-under trio of Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, hope to turn the tables around by solving problems such as scoring champion Durant’s foul troubles (he had five in each in the last two games) and free throw shooting (the team made only 15 of 24 from the stripe).
James scored 29 points, Wade had 25 and Bosh added 10 in Game Three for the Heat, who now hope to make the 2-1 lead stick after holding the same advantage last year only to lose the series to the Dallas Mavericks.
Durant finished with 25 points and Westbrook had 19.