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NBA Finals: You can't buy this kind of experience

One year after experiencing what the Oklahoma City Thunder is now experiencing, the Heat moved within a victory of the title with a 104-98 victory over Oklahoma City Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena.
by Mike Sherman Published: June 20, 2012

It's a noble stance made for one reason: The Thunder doesn't want its young stars looking for a crutch, a reason to explain why all this is happening. Makes perfect sense, for Brooks.

So he's right, about the big plays, and wrong about the experience.

Ask Dwyane Wade if he thinks the Heat’s loss to Dallas in last year’s Finals, leading 2-1 before losing three straight, makes a difference.

“This team, we had to go through something to get to the point that we are resilient, and that's going through a heartbreaking loss in the Finals last year,” Wade said. “Really having to go back and gut-check ourselves.

“But you've got to crawl before you walk. That's what we did.”

It's possible the Thunder could gut-check itself by tipoff Thursday night. A franchise so loaded with talent and character has flattened most every learning curve, accelerating the development beyond all expectations. Again, this is not down 0-2 coming back from San Antonio.

The Thunder, of course, gave its fans hope Tuesday night. Durant pull-up jumper with 4:21 left gave the Thunder its first and only lead of the fourth quarter at 94-92. He attempted only one other shot, a missed desperation 3-pointer down five with 13.6 seconds left.

Miami's Big Three were never bigger than in the three-possession stretch that decided Game 4, and most likely the series.

Chris Bosh went hard to the basket off a pick-and-roll with Wade to tie it. It was his biggest basket of a gritty 13-point, nine-rebound effort, but it wasn't his biggest play. The Heat's third wheel, the player Oklahoma City's own Skip Bayless once called “Bosh Spice,” went to the floor for a loose ball in the first half to provide the emotional fuel for Miami's comeback from a 17-point deficit.

LeBron James' 3-pointer at 2:53 was the kind of shot he's been repeatedly criticized for passing up, and everyone in Oklahoma wishes he had again. The time he took and made the biggest shot of his career, putting the Heat up 97-94.

Another aggressive drive, this one by Wade, capped the Big Three flurry, putting Miami up 99-94, a commanding position with 2:18 left.

A position that has Miami awaiting a title and the Thunder feeling a lot like the Heat of 2011.

by Mike Sherman
Sports Editor
Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman, where he has a combined 18 years of service during two stints as a writer and an editor. He covered high school sports for The Oklahoman from 1984-93. He also worked as a news writer for the...
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