MatchupsThe LeBron James vs Kevin Durant matchup was on full display on this one, KD going for 33 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists on 11-21 from the field, whilst LeBron finished with 29 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists shooting 12-20 from the field. Durant was in early foul trouble, but after a slow first half he came alive as expected.
The second matchup was the Dwyane Wade vs Russell Westbrook where they both went for 21 points. Westbrook was inefficient in his outing though shooting 5-19 from the field totaling 11 boards and 3 assists along with 5 turnovers.Wade on the other hand was 8-17 from the field getting 5 boards and 5 assists, also with 5 turnovers. He had a untimely turnover in the final stages allowing the Thunder to get within 1 points with less than a minute to go.
NotableMario Chalmers went for 20 points today, scoring 3's and even burning Westbrook on an occasion or two for easy layups at the basket. Ray Allen was only 1-5 from the field only getting one 3 in this one and getting shaken up in the physical game, but boy is it a luxury to have a go to man in the clutch to keep another team playing the foul game against the clock. He was 4-4 to help close things out. Chris Bosh went for a quiet 16 points and 6 boards but only played 31 minutes because of early foul trouble.
StatsThis game was a physical one with so many collisions throughout. Both LeBron James and Kevin Durant had technical fouls in the first half. In the second half Dwyane Wade and Serge Ibaka both picked up technical fouls after a hard foul on Westbrook by Shane Battier (which had a flagrant-1 call removed after review). 51 Foul calls were made in the game. The physicality of the game did not leave a negative connotation with these two teams but more so a playoff defense type feel from both teams. The anticipated finals rematch was a must watch on Christmas and it definitely delivered with no team running away with it throughout.
The Heat now move to 19-6, sitting atop the East, while the Thunder are now 21-6 still leading the league. The Heat shot at 47.5% today and only 28.6% from three point land. They where though 19-19 from the line and assisted on 20 of the 38 field goals made.They lost the rebound game by 7 but this was not a big issue with the Heat getting 9 offensive boards, just 2 short of the Thunder on the offensive glass. Defensively the Heat held the Thunder to 42.3% shooting and 31.3% from three. The Thunder got significantly more free throw attempts in this one shooting 32-38 from the line.
The CallThe next 4 games on the Heat's roster include the Charlotte Bobcats tomorrow, and 2 days later a back-to-back against the Detroit Pistons and the Milwaukee Bucks and 2 days later against the Orlando Magic. These 4 games closing out the 2012 portion of the season are very winnable games for the Heat. It's hard to imagine the Heat going 3-1 in this stretch or less (in terms of wins) but I have to consider this as an outcome with the Heat so far prone to have a hiccup in a stretch that is very "winnable". Then again, the Heat look very different over the last 5 games and now on a 4 game win streak including this statement W over the Thunder, I don't see the Heat defense changing. They have kept the last 5 teams under 100 points while maintaining the offense that was working early in the season.
This combination makes me feel at this point that the Heat will go 4-0 on this stretch with the Heat getting their highest win streak of the season and closing out the year strong. We'll check in after each of the 4 games to see how I go on this call.