Lebron James (0.301 WARP, 26-9-12, 2 stl, 3 tov)
Russell Westbrook (0.225 WARP, 43-7-5, 1 stl, 3 tov)
Notable Mention: Mario Chalmers (0.181 WARP, 25-2-3, 2 stl, 1 tov)
James Harden (-0.141 WARP, 8-10-2, 4 tov)
In what was probably the most exciting game of the series thus far, the Heat held off a remarkable performance by Russell Westbrook to secure a 3-1 lead in this series. Right from the opening tip, the tone of the game was fast and physical. OKC opened up hot this time around and were up by as many as 17 points in the first half, but Miami maintained composure and steadily climbed back into the game. In a back and forth 4th quarter, Chalmers came up big for the Heat after being cold for the past 2 games, scoring the Heat’s final 5 points. Lebron suffered what seemed to be painful leg cramps in the 4th quarter, but doing his best Paul Pierce circa 2008 impression, returned to the game to drain a huge game tying 3-pointer with 2:51 remaining in the game.
Though Westbrook was seemingly scoring at will last night, he made a critical error in fouling Mario Chalmers with less than 5 seconds remaining on the shot clock when all the Thunder had to do was get a stop in order to get the ball back. Thus, it should not come as a surprise that Russell Westbrook is the 7th player to make 20 or more field goals in an NBA Finals game, but he’s the first of those players to lose.
If the Thunder want any shot at getting back in this series, they need James Harden to show up. Harden looked tentative all night and missed shots that he normally makes (including a breakaway layup that he normally would have power dunked). If he doesn’t get his act together, he might very well get the label that Lebron had last year as the “choker” of the Finals.