Looking Back On The HEAT’s Second Championship
Digging Into Games 2–5 Of The 2012 NBA Finals
Coming off the disappointment of the 2011 NBA Finals, the HEAT entered the 2012 season determined to make amends.
And even though the team would have to wait a little longer to get going due to the lockout, they kicked off the season with a 105-94 win over the Mavs on Christmas Day and never looked back. In particular, LeBron James had one of the most efficient years of his career and eventually won his third MVP award.
After going through some grueling playoff battles with the Pacers and Celtics (mostly without Chris Bosh), Miami got back to the Finals and matched up with the young and supremely talented Oklahoma City Thunder.
Despite the wealth of experience on the HEAT’s roster, the Thunder were the favorites to take the title. And OKC showed why with a 105-94 victory in Game 1 behind Kevin Durant’s 36 points.
The Thunder’s success would be short lived, though.
Before catching Games 2–5 on FOX Sports Sun starting on Tuesday at 6PM, let’s take a look at how the HEAT rose from the ashes to win four straight games and the 2012 NBA championship.
Game 2 – June 14, 2012
Not wanting to go down 2-0, Miami came out with a sense of urgency and raced out to an 18-2 lead. Naturally, James rallied the troops, but Dwyane Wade, Bosh and Shane Battier also made their presence felt and helped the HEAT take a 55-43 advantage at the break thanks to stout defense and buckets in transition.
And while that quartet continued to make noise in the third, Durant and Russell Westbrook answered nearly every time.
Then things got really crazy in the fourth, as Durant and Russell kept the pedal to the metal and cut the HEAT’s lead to 94-91 with 1:47 left.
But James had other plans.
After a dunk by Bosh shortly thereafter, KD then came back to get OKC within two and had a chance to tie it with 9.9 seconds left.
However, James forced Durant into a miss and then sank a pair of free throws to hold on and escape with a wire-to-wire 100-96 victory.
James led Miami with 32 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the field and a perfect 12-of-12 from the line, eight boards, five assists and a steal, while Wade had 24 points (seven in the fourth) on 10-of-20 shooting, six rebounds, five assists and a block.
Bosh notched a huge double-double with 16 points and 15 boards (seven offensive), and Battier finished with 17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 5-of-7 from deep.
It took a lot to hand the Thunder their first home loss of the 2012 Playoffs, but the HEAT got the job done.
Game 3 – June 17, 2012
Although Miami led for most of this game, things were much closer than Game 2.
In fact, there were 10 lead changes and eight ties in this one, as both teams went back and forth all evening.
Once James Harden converted a difficult layup to put OKC up 77-76 with 7:32 left, the HEAT went on a 10-2 run to give them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Of course, two tough and-ones by Wade and James, respectively, were part of the flurry.
Later, Westbrook hit a pull-up jumper to get the Thunder within one, but each member of the Big 3 drilled free throws to keep Miami ahead and eventually win it 91-85.
Once again, James led the way with a game-high 29 points on 11-of-23 shooting from the field and 6-of-8 from the line, a game-high 14 rebounds and three assists.
Wade also played well and ended up with 25 points on 8-of-22 shooting from the floor and 9-of-11 from the charity stripe, a game-high seven assists, seven boards and two steals.
“It was good to see us execute down the stretch,” James said after the game. “But more importantly, it’s great to see that we were able to get stops. That’s where the game is won, and we did that.”
Game 4 – June 19, 2012
With the HEAT ahead 2-1, it was time to put a stranglehold on the series.
But the Thunder would not go down lightly.
Thanks to the brilliance of Westbrook and Durant (who else?), OKC jumped out to a 33-19 advantage after one. Still, Miami climbed back as usual and tied it at 35 with 7:57 left in the second quarter. Overall, this was the closest game in the series, as there were 12 lead changes and eight ties before the night was done.
What’s more, Wade and James had to dig deep and respond to adversity to keep the pressure on the Thunder. Wade hit the deck hard after getting blocked in the second quarter, while James fought through leg cramps in the fourth.
Speaking of Wade and James, the duo connected on this awesome play early in the third:
Westbrook and Durant just kept on coming, though, and OKC went up 94-92 with 4:21 left to play.
Wade and Bosh then linked up on a pick-and-roll before James, limping from leg cramps, hit this clutch three from the top of the key to give Miami the lead for good:
That’s sheer will and determination right there.
And with Westbrook balling out in the fourth (he concluded with what was then a playoff career-high 43 points), Wade and Chalmers helped James keep the Thunder at bay. Wade came through with some key defensive plays and a couple buckets down the stretch, and Chalmers scored 12 points in the final period, including this remarkable drive:
As such, the HEAT came away with a 104-98 win.
In all, James flirted with a triple-double and racked up 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting, a game-high 12 assists, nine boards and two steals. Wade and Chalmers, on the other hand, both scored 25 points apiece.
“Whatever it takes, man. No excuses,” Wade said after the game. “You don’t want to leave this arena saying, ‘You missed the opportunity.’ So, no matter what was going on in the game, we believed in ourselves, we believed in each other…and we got a win.”
Game 5 – June 21, 2012
On the cusp of their first title since 2006, the HEAT did not disappoint.
To get the party started, the Big 3 set the tone in the first quarter and took advantage in transition quite often.
But Game 5 wasn’t all about that trio.
Like Chalmers in Game 4, Mike Miller emerged from the depths and proved to be the X factor for Miami.
Well, he absolutely exploded for 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting from downtown, with four of those treys coming in the first half to help give the HEAT a 59-49 halftime lead.
As you’d expect, the Thunder showed moxie to cut the deficit to seven with 7:27 left in the third, but Miami countered with a 26-9 run to go up 95-71 and essentially seal the deal entering the fourth.
Each member of the Big 3 went for 20-plus points, as James recorded a triple-double with a team-high 26 points, a game-high 13 assists and a team-high 11 rebounds, Bosh accumulated 24 points (12 in the game-deciding third quarter), seven boards, two blocks and a steal and Wade tallied 20 points, eight rebounds, three assists, a game-high three blocks and two steals.
A 121-106 drubbing.
Amidst all the hoopla that followed the victory, James was presented with the Finals MVP trophy and interviewed by the late, great Stuart Scott.
“It’s about damn time,” James said.
And what a time it was.