Miami adjusted well

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh reacts in the first half during Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals...

Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh reacts in the first half during Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 14, 2012. (Jim Young/REUTERS)

Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 PM ET

MIAMI, FLA. - The seventh lineup was the charm for the Miami Heat.

As was following the game plan more effectively.

The Heat, with Chris Bosh back in the starting group, went with its seventh lineup of this post-season and for the first time had Bosh in the middle with LeBron James and Shane Battier at the other forwards.

The smaller group gave the Heat great spacing and allowed James and Bosh to venture inside more often than they had been able to previously which worked to great effect.

Before the game, Bosh had pointed out some of the clearer instructions demanded by head coach Erik Spoelstra:

“We’re going to post LeBron and Dwayne (Wade) a lot. They’re either going to let those guys go to work, or they’re going to find creases in the defence.”

That’s exactly what came to pass and the call to be more aggressive in attacking the paint also was heeded.

Bosh was pleased, as he had also spoken about not settling for inferior shots prior to the opener.

“Jump shots are tempting, you feel like you can make them … but sometimes we have to be who we are and that’s putting pressure on the rim and being aggressive and taking it to the hoop,” Bosh had said.

“We want to play to the identity of who we are,” Spoelstra said after the win.

“We did not do that in the first game … Our strengths on both ends of the court are to be an aggressive, attacking team.”

True, and the Heat also did what was required at the other end, as opposed to in Game 1.

“We watched the film, we didn’t like what we saw. You can’t give guys 20 points in transition on the road,” Bosh said.

On Thursday, the transition totals were chopped down to 11 and the Thunder was held to 43% shooting from the field.

Bosh also said winning the battle of the boards was crucial. He hauled down 15, almost twice as many as the next-best rebounder on either team.

“Rebounding has been a big emphasis for us, really, since the playoffs pegan and it’s just something that we can get better at as the series goes on.”

Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s players said they would play hard from the start, defend better and move the ball more effectively compared to the opener.

None of that came to pass. The team was down big like a flash. “We didn’t’ come out with the defensive toughness, the disposition that we need to play with,” said head coach Scott Brooks.

“Oh man, that was the game. We can’t start off down 18-to-2,” echoed superstar forward Kevin Durant.

“We weren’t getting stops, getting down in transition, playing our game,” added Russell Westbrook.

“It’s tough to do that when you start off a little slow, you fall back and try to get the game at the end.”

OKC intends to finally play up to its rather significant capabilities in Game 3 and Spoelstra is expecting it.

“This is going to be a very competitive series,” he said.

“We’re confident going home, but that doesn’t guarantee anything and I think our guys have enough perspective to know that we’re going to have to earn this.”

THE RESURGENCE OF SHANE BATTIER

 Miami Heat architect Pat Riley has rightfully received a lot of slack for failing to surround his Big 3 with a halfway decent supporting cast the past two years.

However, one move he appears to have gotten right was inking veteran Shane Battier last summer.

While continuing to provide some of the best perimeter defence in the NBA, Battier has also caught fire from outside in the playoffs – particularly of late.

Battier shot 5-of-6 from three in Game 1 – including 3-for-3 in the first quarter as Miami raced out to a big lead – and then went 5-for-7 in Game 2 (3-for-4 in the first half).

“He’s been a huge lift for us … he’s making plays both offensively and defensively,” said LeBron James after the Heat evened the series on Thursday night.

“The series is going to be so tight that we’re going to need guys to step up and Shane has been there in the first two games.

“He’s a big part of why we’re here today and competing for a championship.”

And that’s what Battier was counting on when he chose to come to South Beach. In seven previous trips to the playoffs, Battier had never advanced past the second round (five times he went out in the opening round).

Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra finds it funny that people are only now giving Battier his due.

“That’s when everybody notices Shane Battier is when the ball is going in,” scolded the coach.

“We notice everything else before that, his versatility. He allows us to play our roster the way we need to and we weren’t necessarily able to do that last year.”

Spoelstra wasn’t done:

“It’s the defensive plays that he makes, it’s the leadership, all the details mean everything to him and that’s become contagious to this group.”


Videos

Photos