MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat answers questions from the media next to the Larry O'Brien Finals Championship trophy and James' Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy during his post game press conference after they won 121-106 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

NBA Finals: LeBron James Leads Heat To Promised Land

Schedule and updates for the 2012 NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat.

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NBA Finals 2012: LeBron James Gets His Ring, Does It His Way

There wasn't a more appropriate way for LeBron James to win his first NBA Championship.

Game Four and Game Five of the NBA Finals highlighted what makes James such a unique, special player. As good as #6 is individually, his ability and willingness to make others around him better separates him from almost every other superstar in the NBA.

Game Six against the Boston Celtics LeBron was on another level good, but that wasn't truly his game. James scored 45 of the Heat's 98 points and Dwyane Wade was the only other player in double figures with 17. Bron took the game over, won it all by himself.

Please don't misconstrue this upcoming part. In the last two games of the NBA Finals LeBron James was far and away the best player on the court.

James played facilitator in Games Four and Five. He scored 26 points in each game, but he controlled the game with his ability to draw defenders and open the court up for his teammates. LeBron had 25 assists combined in the final two games after having only 12 in the first three.

In Game Five the Heat had six players score in double figures, four with 20 points or more. In Game Four the Heat had four players in double figures, 3 with 20 points or more. In the two games combined Miami had 10 players in double figures with 7 scoring 20 points or more.

Compare that to Oklahoma City over Game Four and Game Five. The Thunder had six players in double figures and three over 20 points in the two games combined.

At different points across the series LeBron James made Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, Chris Bosh, Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller and Norris Cole better players.

James doesn't need to be coaxed into playing this way, his coach doesn't have to beg him, and his teammates don't have to give off subtle signs about his selfishness in postgame interviews.

His first NBA Championship brought validation for many. People who really paid attention know it wasn't needed.

LeBron as an individual has been on a level all by himself since pretty much his second year in the league. In any one of those season if James was surrounded by the right talent he could have won it all.

Yes James' game has grown and evolved, playing more in the post as a true power forward was ultra important to this year's title run. But with a player like James depending on the complimentary players he could lead a team to a championship playing as a true point guard.

LeBron's versatility has always been one of his biggest strengths. The way the Heat were constructed Miami was able to create the most mismatches with him playing power forward. It gave room for Wade to operate on the perimeter and opened up the court for Miami's many solid spot up shooters in Bosh, Battier, Chalmers and Miller.

James playing power forward with point guard passing skills and the Heat's complimentary players was an impossible combination for the Thunder to stop.

LeBron won a championship his way, the right way, and it is just the beginning.


Will Scott Brooks Cost The Oklahoma City Thunder The NBA Title?

As the NBA Finals sit at 1-1 after the Miami Heat handed the Oklahoma City Thunder their first loss at home of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, only one person can get in the way of the Thunder winning this year's championship.

It's not LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.

The man is the Thunder's own head coach Scott Brooks and the issue revolves around center Kendrick Perkins.

It isn't that Oklahoma City is awful when Perk is on the court -- it's that they're that much better when he is off. When breaking it down per 100 possessions during the playoffs, when Perkins plays the Thunder's offensive efficiency is 107.2 and defensive efficiency is 104.2, good for a +3. When Perkins sits the Thunder's offensive efficiency jumps to 114 and defensive efficiency drops to 101.1, a 12.9 positive differential.

The sample size isn't just the playoffs either. During the regular season the numbers were similar.

With Perkins on the court their offensive efficiency was 103.7 and defensive efficiency stood at 99.6. When Perkins was on the bench the offensive efficiency was 110.3 and defensive efficiency, 100.4. A +4.1 when Perkins played and a +10.1 when didn't.

Against the Miami Heat, Brooks insistence on playing their starting center sticks out like Tim Tebow would at a swingers party.

With no true big man on the Heat's roster there is no match-up that makes sense for Perkins. Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem are both face up jump shooters and not back to the basket players. In addition the Heat put the former Celtic in the uncomfortable position of having to guard pick and rolls; it is too easy for the Heat to take Perk out of his comfort zone.

This is a big reason Miami has put together terrific starts in both games. In the first quarter of Game 1, Perkins was a -9, while in Game 2 he was a -15. To his credit when he was put back into the game the Thunder didn't perform nearly as bad. After the first quarter in Game 1 Perk was a +7 and in Game 2 he was a +1.

Scott Brooks playing Perkins won't stop the Thunder from winning the title, but it opens up the door for the Heat to steal it.

If Brooks pulled Perkins from the rotation and gave all the center minutes to Serge Ibaka and Nick Collison with Kevin Durant and Thabo Sefolosha playing power forward the chances of Oklahoma City losing to Miami would drop significantly.

Additional Notes

  • I agree with the no call on Kevin Durant's opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. The contact by LeBron did not impact Durant's shot and Durant was tentative not aggressive. If KD went through the contact to the hoop instead of shooting a fadeaway he would have forced the ref to blow the whistle. Durant has no one to blame but himself.
  • Will this game finally quell the notion that the only part of the NBA game that matters is the fourth quarter or the final two minutes? For the second straight game Durant was otherworldly in the final quarter, but this time the Thunder couldn't pull it out. Maybe if KD wasn't 3-9 in the first half and 0-5 from three point range the Thunder wouldn't have needed a miraculous comeback.
  • The Russell Westbrook criticism needs to stop. After Magic Johnson's ridiculous halftime comments saying Russell Westbrook played the worst half a point guard ever played in the finals I paid close attention when I re-watched the game. He was 2-10, but only two of the shots were bad shots. Westbrook missed five of six shots at the rim (four lay ups and one post up). During the season Westbrook shot 61.8% at the rim, this was an anomaly. I thought Westbrook was better than Durant in the first half who settled for jump shots and contested three pointers. RW was at least aggressive attacking the basket.
  • I though Spoelstra made a mistake bringing Bosh back into the starting line-up - I was wrong.
  • I didn't like how the Heat's offense in the fourth quarter. They went away from what was successful in the first three quarters. Miami was better when they let someone else initiate the offense and hit LeBron James in the post, mid-range on the wing or at the elbow. In the fourth quarter James went back to playing as a point guard and handling the ball outside the three point line.
  • The script got flipped from Game One. In Game Two the Heat scored 48 points to the Thunder's 32 in the paint compared to Game One when Oklahoma City had 56 points in the paint to Miami's 40. The Heat also held the Thunder to 11 fast break points Thursday night including zero in the first half.

For more coverage of the NBA Finals, visit SB's NBA hub. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City.


NBA Finals Game 2 Schedule, Heat Vs Thunder Round 2

So far, this has all the makings of a great NBA Finals series. In Game 1, the Oklahoma City Thunder turned up the defensive pressure and sacrificed some offense (James Harden) for some defense (Thabo Sefalosha) and in the process were able to slow Dwyane Wade.

The Miami Heat, for their part, is going to have to come up with a better plan for containing Russell Westbrook's destructive drives. Chris Bosh, who was huge for the Heat in Game 7 against Boston, will also need to dominate his match ups.

Game 2: Thursday, June 14 at Oklahoma City at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC

Here's the remaining schedule for the 2012 NBA Finals:

Game 3: Saturday, June 17 at Miami at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC

Game 4: Tuesday, June 19 at Miami at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC

Game 5: Thursday, June 21 at Miami at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC*

Game 6 Sunday, June 24 at Oklahoma City at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC*

Game 7 Tuesday, June 26 at Oklahoma City at 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT on ABC*

*If necessary

For more coverage of the NBA Finals, visit SB's NBA hub. For more on the Heat, visit Peninsula Is Mightier. For more on the Thunder, visit Welcome To Loud City.

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