LeBron James is delivering. This year's finals has been the antithesis of last year's for LeBron James. Whereas last year James was tentative, settling for long jump shots, and disappearing late in games, James is finally playing like the player everyone is accustomed to. James had 29 points and 14 rebounds in Game 3 and 26 points (including a huge tie-breaking 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter), 9 rebounds and 12 assists in Game 4. He's averaging 29 points 10 rebounds and 6 assists in the finals and has his team one win away from a title. In a series full of stars, LeBron has shined the brightest. But I'm still going to root against him.
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The Thunder look like the more inexperienced team. Watching the last two games, and really all three of Miami's wins, there's just been a cavalcade of mental mistakes by the young Thunder. Missed free throws, dumb fouls, bad turnovers, lack of situational awareness... They haven't looked like a championship caliber team and I think a lot of that can be attributed to this team's youth and inexperience. Sure they have guys like Kendrick Perkins and Derek Fisher who have won titles, but the nucleus of this team: Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden are all here for the first time. The Thunder will need to grow up in a hurry or this series will end tomorrow night.
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Miami's role players are finally stepping up. The Big Three have all been doing their part, but Miami's role players are all starting to contribute. Shane Battier, James Jones, Mario Chalmers, and even rookie Norris Cole have all had an impact on this series. Heck even Juwan Howard has been getting all kinds of camera time (albeit not actual playing time). I said after Game 1 that LeBron James couldn't do it alone and his sidekicks and underkicks have been chipping in and that's a huge reason why it's 3-1 Heat.
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Russell Westbrook was terrific last night. A lot of people look pretty silly for calling out Russell Westbrook for taking too many shots earlier in the series. Westbrook was sensational last night hitting on 20 of his 32 field goals and finishing with a career playoff high 43 points. If not for his Herculean effort, the Thunder aren't even in Game 4. I know people want him to shoot less and for Durant to shoot more, but you have to respect what Westbrook can do with the ball in his hands.
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James Harden has been terrible. I don't want to say that James Harden is costing the Thunder the title, but he's been dreadful the past two games. 4 for 20 shooting, 1 for 9 on 3-pointers, 6 turnovers, 9 fouls... This is the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year and he's missing open layups, clanging open jumpers and shooting a paltry 20%. Considering each of the last two losses were decided in the final minute, it's a not a big leap to suggest that if Harden even made 40% of his shots, this series could be tied at 2 or even 3-1 Thunder. Westbrook and Durant need help from someone if they are to have any chance in this series and what that really means is that Harden needs to regain his confidence.
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