OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma – Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade answered the bell for the Miami Heat who bounced back from a disappointing loss in the NBA finals opener with a gritty 100-96 victory in game two on Thursday.
Bosh returned to his familiar starting role as the Heat built a 17-point lead in the first quarter then held off a late charge by the Oklahoma City Thunder to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
It was the first start for the 28-year-old Bosh since mid-May. Bosh had to come off the bench for the previous four post-season games as he eased his way back into the line-up from an abdominal strain that caused him to miss nine playoff games.
Bosh found his scoring touch early in game two and by halftime he already had a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
“It was time to step up,” said Bosh who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds.
“I wanted to be more aggressive. I wanted to play good defence and space the floor correctly and I knew everything else would fall into place.”
Bosh tied a playoff career high with 15 rebounds.
Like Bosh, Wade got involved in the offence in the first quarter and together they set the tone for game two.
The Heat now have the psychological edge, having stolen home court advantage with a split of the first two games in Oklahoma City. The series now shifts to Miami for games three, four and five. Games six and seven if needed will be back in Oklahoma City.
Wade bounced back from a sub-par effort in game one to finish with 24 points, six rebounds and five assists after scoring just 19 points in game one. Wade took much of the blame for the 105-94 game one loss.
“We need to switch the mindset a little quicker now,” Wade said. “Game one was kind of a feel out game, especially when you are on the road. Game two you come out and make adjustments.
“I felt I was too passive in game one. The change was me trying to be more aggressive when I had my chances down the stretch.”
Miami punished the Thunder in the paint and on the fast break and never let Oklahoma City get into an offensive flow in the first half.
The Heat led by 18-2 in the first eight minutes as the Thunder missed 11 of 12 shots in that span. Miami extended their lead to 17 points twice and led by 12 at the intermission.
The Thunder made it interesting in the end outscoring Miami 29-22 in the fourth but they dug themselves too deep a hole to climb out of.
Asked what the reason is for two slow starts in a row, Thunder guard James Harden shrugged, “We don’t know. We have to change if we want to win games.”