LeBron James and the Heat were in this same exact position just one year ago. They were up 2-1 in the NBA Finals last year playing against the Dallas Mavericks and they never won a game again. It would be easy to look back at that series and figure out what went wrong: LeBron James was once again failing to shine under the brightest lights, and his performance during the Playoffs was simply terrible. Not this time around. LeBron James has put up three of his best performances in the Finals we have ever seen against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And he really delivered when the series finally shifted to South Beach. On game three against the Thunder, LeBron James finished the game with 29 points, 14 rebounds, and 3 assists. And despite a brilliant comeback in the third quarter from the Thunder, who managed to turn things around and even built a 10 point lead, James put up a three-pointer in the final seconds of the third to take the lead and never let go.
Kevin Durant had 25 points for the Thunder while Russell Westbrook finished the night with 19 points and 5 rebounds in 8 of 18 shooting. Kevin Durant once again got caught in foul trouble and things got a little complicated. He picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter and had to go to the bench, but perhaps the biggest surprise came just few seconds later when the Thunder head coach Scott Brooks decided to sit Westrbook as well to give him a little break at the end of the third quarter. Suddenly, the Heat took a second wind and turn things around to take a three-point lead at the end of the third quarter. From there on, the Heat never fell back again and finished the night with a 91-85 win at home.
The Miami fans were excited with James overall performance. It’s not just that he is delivering offensively, he is also working hard on his defensive play. James was responsible for cutting down a bit on Kevin Durant’s performance for the Thunder. He was a bit proud of his performance on Sunday night. “Just trying to make plays,” James said in the postgame press conference. “I told you guys, last year I didn’t make enough game-changing plays, and that’s what I kind of pride myself on. I didn’t do that last year in the Finals. I’m just trying to make game-changing plays, and whatever it takes for our team to win, just trying to step up in key moments and be there for my teammates.”
In this same circumstances, when both team in the NBA Finals are tied with one game a piece, whatever team goes on to win the third game, ends up winning the championship 85% of the time. Sure enough, there is still plenty to be said and done in this series and the outcome has not yet been decided by any means, but things are looking a bit uphill right now for the Thunder. Still, there is plenty of talent on this young and hungry team. “It was frustrating,” Durant said. “Of course we had a good lead and they came back and made some shots. We fouled shooters on the 3-point line twice. It’s a tough break for us, man. You know, I hate sitting on the bench, especially with fouls.” Well, it’s going to be up to Durant to take some pride and guide the Thunder into a vital win in game 4.