Last Night’s Numbers – 5/4/12
Kyle Soppe also writes about the NBA for Pickin’ Splinters. Follow him on Twitter.
Two games, two series, two 3-0 leads that seem impossible to reverse. The Thunder and Heat blew away the Mavs and Knicks respectively, with some familiar faces doing most of the damage.
Thunder @ Mavs – Thunder win 95-79
MVP: Kevin Durant
The 2012 scoring champion clearly wasn’t satisfied with a 2-0 series lead, and used Game Three to damage the pride of the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The two games in OKC saw Durant struggle from the field, with some analysts believing that Dallas had provided a blue print to slow down the scoring machine … not so much. Durantula recorded a series high 86.7 eFG% on his way to 31 points. Opponents are in trouble when the 88% career free throw shooter misfires on as many freebies (2) as two-point field goals. Durant scoring points is nothing new, but his willingness to distribute was, and the added dimension makes the Thunder my pick to come out of the west. He handed out 6 assists and committed only 1 turnover, his best ratio since March 16, 2011. In a crucial third quarter, where the Thunder effectively ended the Mavs hope at a comeback, the games best scorer deferred to a hot Russell Westbrook, notching 3 dimes and no turnovers. For the night, Durant’s +22 plus/minus ratio was the best on the Thunder, far from a surprise for the Western Conference’s best player.
Heat @ Knicks – Heat win 87-70
MVP: Mario Chalmers
The “Big Three” produced at a high level, but when it comes to “value”, no player was more important than the team’s fourth option. He logged a team high 40 minutes and produced a silly 95.5 eFG% which resulted in 19 points. The point guard grabbed 7 rebounds and recorded 3 steals as the Heat overcame a 36 point first half to beat the Knicks in convincing fashion. In fact, the 36 point first half from Miami was the lowest first 24 minutes that resulted in a win this season. They had started slow at home before (won with a 37 point first half against the Cavs and a 42 point first half against the Bulls) but never quite like last night. They had never started nearly that slow on the road this season in a winning effort, as the low scoring halves typically came in the second set of 24 minutes, where the starters rested (won at Detroit while scoring 29 second half points and in Philadelphia while scoring 27). Chalmers stepped up his offensive game in the second half, as he scored 63.2% of his points and grabbed 71.4% of his rebounds after the intermission. The Knicks are a dangerous team when they outscore their opponents from three point land, but Chalmers made sure that didn’t happen on this night. He single handily made 2.5x more three pointers than New York’s starting five, and made more three pointers (5) than the Knicks did as a team (3). The knock on Miami is their lack of a perimeter game, but by outscoring the Knicks by 21 points from distance, they disproved that theory. In a game in which LeBron James went for 32 and Dwayne Wade recorded 36.4% of the teams assists as compared to only 11.8% of the turnover total, it was Chalmers who led the team with a +28 plus/minus ratio.