The 2012 NBA Championship Series — The Heat and Thunder


By Ron Griffitts

Contributing columnist

In June 2012, the Miami Heat (46-20) coached by Erik Spoelstra with Pat Riley as general manager met the Oklahoma City Thunder (47-19) with Scott Brooks as coach and Sam Presti as general manager.

For the Thunder, it was the first finals appearance in their history and they defeated the Dallas Mavericks (4-2), the Los Angeles Lakers (4-1) and the San Antonio Spurs (4-2) to have the right to represent the Western Conference in the championship series.

They were led by Kevin Durant (28.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg), Russell Westbrook (23.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 5.5 apg), James Harden (16.8 ppg), Serge Ibaba (7.5 rpg) and Kendrick Perkins (6.6 rpg).

The defending Eastern Conference champion Heat got past the New York Knicks (4-1), the Indiana Pacers (4-2) and the Boston Celtics (4-3) to get to the Finals and were led by LeBron James (27.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 6.2 apg), Dwayne Wade (22.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 4.6 apg), Chris Bosh (18.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and Udonis Haslem (7.3 rpg)

Game one was the first finals playoff game ever in Oklahoma City. Playing in the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Heat got off to a good start leading 29-22 after the first quarter. But, the Thunder took over the game in the second quarter and outscored Miami 83-65 in the rest of the game for a 105-94 win.

Kevin Durant made 12 of 20 field goal attempts for 36 points and had 8 rebounds while Russell Westbrook had 27 points and 11 assists. LeBron James led the Heat with 30 points and 9 rebounds and Oklahoma City had a 1-0 lead in the series.

In game two, the Heat again had a good first quarter, leading 27-15 but in this game held off the Thunder who outscored Miami 29-22 in the fourth quarter, for a 100-96 win to even the series at 1-1.

LeBron James led Miami with 32 points and 8 rebounds while Dwayne Wade contributed 24 points and Chris Bosh pulled down 15 rebounds. Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 32 points, Russell Westbrook had 27 and James Harden had 21 points.

For game three, the two teams switched to American Airlines Arena in Miami where Miami again got off to a first quarter lead, 28-20 and in a close game held on for a 91-85 win to take a 2-1 lead over the Thunder.

LeBron James again led Miami with 29 points and 14 rebounds while Dwayne Wade added 25 points and Chris Bosh had 11 rebounds. Kevin Durant had 25 points and Kendrick Perkins 12 rebounds for Oklahoma City.

In game four, the Thunder got out to a 33-19 lead in the first quarter but were outscored in each of the succeeding quarters as Miami pulled out their third straight win, 104-96, for a three games to one lead in the series.

LeBron James led the Heat with 26 points, 9 rebounds and 12 assists while Mario Chambers and Dwayne Wade added 25 points each. Russell Westbrook had a series high 43 points and Kevin Durant had 28 for Oklahoma City.

Still in Miami, the Heat coasted to a 95-71 lead after three quarters. Even though Oklahoma City outscored them 35-26 in the fourth quarter, they won the game and the NBA title with a 121-106 win.

Playing in his third NBA final, LeBron James got his first NBA title and first series MVP award.

He had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists for the game as Dwayne Wade added 20 and Chris Bosh had 24 points. Kevin Durant had 32 points and 11 rebounds while Russell Westbrook and James Harden both had 19 points for the Thunder.

The Heat returned the next year to the NBA finals but Oklahoma City has not been back to the finals.

Durant, Westbrook and Harden all left Oklahoma City and starred for other teams and all three won NBA MVP awards. You have to wonder what kind of success the team would have had if they all stayed in Oklahoma City.

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