|Eastern Finals||Heat defeated Celtics, 4-3|
|Western Finals||Thunder defeated Spurs, 4-2|
The 2012 NBA Finals was the championship series of the 2011-12 season of the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the conclusion of the season's playoffs. The Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat defeated the Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder four games to one to win their second NBA title. Heat small forward LeBron James was named the Finals MVP.
This marked the fourth time in franchise history that the Oklahoma City Thunder appeared in the NBA Finals, and their first Finals appearance as the Thunder, since relocating from Seattle, Washington, previously as the Seattle SuperSonics in 2008. The franchise had previously appeared as the SuperSonics in 1996, where they lost to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls, who won an NBA record 72 games during that season. The Thunder came into the series as the youngest finalists in NBA history. It also marked the Miami Heat's second consecutive appearance in the NBA Finals and third appearance overall. The Heat previously appeared in 2006 and 2011, both times against the Dirk Nowitzki-led Dallas Mavericks, only to be defeated the previous season.
It was the first NBA Finals in 14 seasons that was not held in either the states of California or Texas; the 3 teams that won the previous 13 Western Conference titles the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs were eliminated by Oklahoma City in that order.
The series began on June 12, five days later than its originally planned June 7 start. This delay was due to the lockout that pushed the start of the season to late December and shortened the regular season to 66 games. The series then ended on June 21. Under the 2-3-2 rotation, the Thunder had home-court advantage, since they had a better regular season record than the Heat, and thus hosted the first two games. The Heat also became the first team since the 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA title after losing the previous year, and the first Eastern Conference team to do so since the 1988-89 Detroit Pistons.
This was the second consecutive appearance for the Heat, after losing to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. This was also their second Finals appearance in the "Big Three" era, being led by superstar LeBron James, shooting guard Dwyane Wade, and power forward Chris Bosh. Their other Finals appearance was in 2006, when they defeated the Mavericks to win their first NBA title, led by Wade and Shaquille O'Neal.
In the regular season, the Heat finished with 46 victories, then defeated the New York Knicks (4-1), Indiana Pacers (4-2) and Boston Celtics (4-3) on their way to the Finals. Along the way, they managed to overcome series deficits that nearly sent them home but they had strings of victories to let them survive. The first was against the Pacers in the Conference Semifinals when they trailed in the series, 1-2. The Heat responded by taking three straight victories to defeat the Pacers. The second was against the Celtics in the Conference Finals when they trailed, 2-3, in the series. They responded by winning a decisive game 6 in Boston, taking the last two games of the series to advance to the Finals.
The Heat retained much of the same cast from the previous year, save for Shane Battier, rookies Terrel Harris and Norris Cole,Eddy Curry, and Ronny Turiaf, who was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers team that lost in the Finals to the Boston Celtics in 2008.
This was the Thunder's first NBA Finals appearance since the team relocated from Seattle in 2008. Including their seasons as the Seattle SuperSonics, this was also the club's fourth Finals appearance, and first since 1996, when they lost to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. The team was seeking their first NBA championship since 1979.
The Thunder finished with 47 wins, second in the Western Conference. During the playoffs, they defeated the defending champion Dallas Mavericks (4-0), the Los Angeles Lakers (4-1), and the #1 West Seed San Antonio Spurs (4-2).
The Thunder came into the Finals as the second-youngest finalists in NBA history. With the exception of Derek Fisher (with the Los Angeles Lakers), Nazr Mohammed (with the San Antonio Spurs) and Kendrick Perkins (with the Boston Celtics), all players from the Thunder were playing in their first NBA Finals. They were the first Western Conference team in fourteen years to play in the NBA Finals without coming from the states of California or Texas.
|Oklahoma City Thunder (Western Conference champion)||Miami Heat (Eastern Conference champion)|
2nd seed in the West, 3rd best league record
2nd seed in the East, 4th best league record
|Defeated the 7th seeded Dallas Mavericks, 4-0||First round||Defeated the 7th seeded New York Knicks, 4-1|
|Defeated the 3rd seeded Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1||Conference Semifinals||Defeated the 3rd seeded Indiana Pacers, 4-2|
|Defeated the 1st seeded San Antonio Spurs, 4-2||Conference Finals||Defeated the 4th seeded Boston Celtics, 4-3|
The season series was tied, 1-1, with both teams winning at their home floor.
March 25, 2012
|Game||Date||Away team||Result||Home team|
|Game 1||Tuesday, June 12||Miami Heat||94-105 (0-1)||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Game 2||Thursday, June 14||Miami Heat||100-96 (1-1)||Oklahoma City Thunder|
|Game 3||Sunday, June 17||Oklahoma City Thunder||85-91 (1-2)||Miami Heat|
|Game 4||Tuesday, June 19||Oklahoma City Thunder||98-104 (1-3)||Miami Heat|
|Game 5||Thursday, June 21||Oklahoma City Thunder||106-121 (1-4)||Miami Heat|
|Miami Heat 94, Oklahoma City Thunder 105|
|Scoring by quarter: 29-22, 25-25, 19-27, 21-31|
|Pts: LeBron James 30
Rebs: Udonis Haslem 11
Asts: Dwyane Wade 8
|Pts: Kevin Durant 36|
Rebs: Nick Collison 10
Asts: Russell Westbrook 11
|Oklahoma City leads series, 1-0|
The Thunder defeated the Heat, 105-94, in Game 1. Miami held the lead for most of the first three quarters, including a 13-point lead at one point during the second quarter. The Heat made five three-pointers to jump to a 29-22 lead by the end of the first quarter, but Oklahoma City kept on pace with Miami to keep the score at 54-47 by halftime. The Thunder then took the lead for good with 16 seconds left in the third quarter after Russell Westbrook made a free throw to make it 74-73. Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 36 points, while Westbrook had 27. LeBron James led the Heat with 30 points, but was held to one basket during the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter.
|Miami Heat 100, Oklahoma City Thunder 96|
|Scoring by quarter: 27-15, 28-28, 23-24, 22-29|
|Pts: LeBron James 32
Rebs: Chris Bosh 15
Asts: James, Wade 5 each
|Pts: Kevin Durant 32|
Rebs: Perkins, Westbrook 8 each
Asts: Russell Westbrook 7
|Series tied, 1-1|
The Heat defeated the Thunder 100-96 in Game 2, tying the series at one game a piece and giving the Thunder their first home playoff loss of the season. Miami never trailed, building a 27-15 first quarter lead, and holding a 17-point advantage at one point. The Thunder attempted a comeback in the fourth quarter, and with 37 seconds left in the game, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant made a three-pointer to cut the deficit, 98-96. Durant would miss a game-tying jumper in the closing seconds as Miami held off Oklahoma City for the Game 2 win. The play did not come without controversy however as many observers had felt that James had fouled Durant on the right hip during the shot, a potential sixth foul that would have taken the Heat superstar out of the game in the process.LeBron James led the Heat with 32 points, while Durant scored 32 of his own to lead the Thunder.
|Oklahoma City Thunder 85, Miami Heat 91|
|Scoring by quarter: 20-26, 26-21, 21-22, 18-22|
|Pts: Kevin Durant 25
Rebs: Kendrick Perkins 12
Asts: James Harden 6
|Pts: LeBron James 29|
Rebs: LeBron James 14
Asts: Dwyane Wade 7
|Miami leads series, 2-1|
Miami won Game 3, 91-85, to go up two games to one in the series. Miami had a slim 47-46 halftime lead before Oklahoma City began the third quarter with a 10-4 run, eventually building a 10-point lead midway through the period. However, Miami scored the last seven points in the third quarter to regain the lead at 69-67. With 7:36 remaining in the game, the Thunder came back to retake the lead at 77-76, but the Heat then scored eight unanswered points to build an 84-77 advantage with 3:47 left. A 6-0 run by Oklahoma City pulled them within one point of Miami with 90 seconds left, but the Thunder could not score again for the rest of the game while the Heat made five insurance free throws. LeBron James led the Heat with 29 points and 14 rebounds, while Kevin Durant scored 25 points to lead the Thunder.
|Oklahoma City Thunder 98, Miami Heat 104|
|Scoring by quarter: 33-19, 16-27, 26-33, 23-25|
|Pts: Russell Westbrook 43
Rebs: James Harden 10
Asts: Russell Westbrook 5
|Pts: LeBron James 26|
Rebs: Bosh, James 9 each
Asts: LeBron James 12
|Miami leads series, 3-1|
Miami won Game 4, 104-98, to go up three games to one in the series. The Thunder jumped to a 33-19 lead by the end the first quarter, but the Heat rallied to cut the score to 49-46 at halftime, thanks to two huge three-pointers by Heat rookie Norris Cole. The two teams remained neck-and-neck throughout most of the third quarter, with Miami holding a 4-point lead at the start of fourth period. However, for the final 16 minutes of the game, Russell Westbrook (who led the Thunder with 43 points) and Kevin Durant (who had 28 points) were the only two Oklahoma City players able to score. With the other Thunder players struggling to make their shots, Miami was able to pull away in the end, largely thanks to late-game heroics from LeBron James, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade. LeBron James led the Heat with 26 points, including the go ahead three pointer, but had to sit out during the final two minutes of the game due to leg cramps. Mario Chalmers scored 25 points and made two key plays to seal Miami's win: a driving layup around a well-positioned Serge Ibaka and two free throws after a rare mistake by Westbrook (he fouled Chalmers after the point guard recovered Shane Battier's tip on a jump ball with less than 1 minute left, thinking that the shot clock would reset, while NBA rules do not reset at that point in a 4th quarter if the team that previously had the ball re-gains possession off the tip).
|Oklahoma City Thunder 106, Miami Heat 121|
|Scoring by quarter: 26-31, 23-28, 22-36, 35-26|
|Pts: Kevin Durant 32
Rebs: Kevin Durant 11
Asts: Russell Westbrook 6
|Pts: LeBron James 26|
Rebs: LeBron James 11
Asts: LeBron James 13
|Miami wins NBA Finals, 4-1|
Miami won Game 5, 121-106, to win the series, four games to one. After keeping it a close game in the first half, the Thunder were outscored 36-22 in the third quarter, with Miami leading as much as 27 at one point. Miami was fueled by strong performances by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, as well as by Mike Miller, who was 7 for 8 for three-pointers, ending the night with 23 points. Miller only entered the game because Wade encountered foul trouble in the first half, with Coach Erik Spoelstra telling the variously-injured veteran the Heat just needed him to hold the fort until the 2nd quarter began; when Miller hit two three-pointers, Spoelstra asked him if he could keep playing and Miller said yes, leading to 23 minutes on the court that were critical in blowing the game open for Miami. The team tied an NBA Finals record for most 3-pointers in a game with 14. With three minutes remaining in the game, both teams took their starters out of the game, with the Heat still leading by more than 20 points. With their Game 5 win, the Heat won their second NBA championship in team history, and the first for several Heat players, including James, who was named the NBA Finals MVP after averaging 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists in the finals, capping it all off with his first triple double of the season in the final game. For the Thunder, Kevin Durant had 32 points, and 11 rebounds; Russell Westbrook had 19 points and 6 assists; and James Harden led the bench with 19 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds.
|Points||Russell Westbrook||Oklahoma City Thunder||43||Kevin Durant||Oklahoma City Thunder||30.6||5|
|Rebounds||Chris Bosh||Miami Heat||15||LeBron James||Miami Heat||10.2||5|
|Assists||LeBron James||Miami Heat||13||LeBron James||Miami Heat||7.4||5|
|Steals||LeBron James||Miami Heat||4||Mario Chalmers||Miami Heat||1.8||5|
|Blocks||Serge Ibaka||Oklahoma City Thunder||5||Serge Ibaka||Oklahoma City Thunder||2.0||5|
In the United States, the NBA Finals aired on ABC and Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy served as commentators. ESPN Radio aired it as well and had Jim Durham, Jack Ramsey and Hubie Brown as commentators.