The Oklahoma City Thunder came back from a 13 point deficit and beat the Miami Heat in a thriller of a Game 1 that you had to stick around to watch. And that turned into ratings gold, as it became the highest rated NBA Finals Game 1 in ABC’s history.
The 105-94 win in Oklahoma City earned a 11.8 overnight Nielsen rating, up 10 percent over last year’s Finals Game 1 between the Heat and Mavericks. The previous record for a Game 1 was 11.6 in a 2004 game between the Pistons and Lakers.
[...] The ratings news comes on the heels of Game 7 of the East finals between the Heat and Celtics earning the top rating for an NBA game on cable.
It was a hell of a game to watch.
As I said on Crossover Chronicles this morning, it had a feel of a young, nervous team coming out rusty after a six-day layoff versus a team that had just been through a hellish 7-game series against a physical team. The Thunder started slow, especially Russell Westbrook, but he, and they, figured it out in the second half. Westbrook and Durant combined to score 41 points to the Heat’s 40 after halftime. Durant dropped 17 of his 36 points in the 4th quarter alone. He closed like an MVP. It was really quite spectacular to watch. He hit from everywhere.
The Heat crumbled in the 4th quarter, and while LeBron’s numbers suffered the most, the heat (no pun intended) should really be on Dwyane Wade. Taking 19 shots to score 19 points is a killer against a young hungry team that can match Miami’s hellfire transition game. The Thunder have the rebounders Miami sorely lacked, so the offensive rebounds that erased a lot of the misses against the Celtics weren’t there to bail them out this time. Those turned into defensive rebounds, which turned into transition opportunities. Same with the Miami mistakes, which the younger, faster Thunder capitalized on much more easily than the slower Celtics.
The result? 56 points in the paint for the Thunder. Transition layups will do that for you. As much as I love this Celtics team, the Thunder can do things to Miami that Boston just couldn’t. If the Heat play the exact same way they played against the Celtics, the Thunder might win 5 or 6 games.