In Games 2 and 3 of the 2012 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat started off quickly to jump to double-digit leads. The Oklahoma City Thunder did the same thing in Game 4.
The difference: the Miami Heat kept up the pace and were able to win both the second and third game of the series while the Thunder became stagnant and fatigued, which opened the door for the Heat to steal the third contest.
Leading up to the playoffs, the big question about the postseason success potential of the Thunder surrounded on whether or not they were experienced enough to battle old, cagy veterans.
OKC answered the challenge against the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs and the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. However, inexperience has finally crept around the corner to show it’s bright, smiling face.
After taking a 33-19 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Thunder became extremely complacent. The missions of taking the ball to the rim, executing passes and helping on defense that lead to a smacking of the Heat, turned into well wishes as they disappeared.
Veterans don’t take kindly to a smacking; they answer back.
Miami went on a 30-to-16 run from there on and basically stole the game. The Heat’s newly found energy and desire to win the game seemed to put a strangle hold around the Thunder in a matter of which they couldn’t handle, more or less breath.
Russell Westbrook went off for 43 points, five assists and seven rebounds but his performance was obviously about him, not his team. If we take a look at past NBA seasons, the superstars who distribute the rock or aide their team in other ways win more games and more championships than the ones who play for me.
The New York Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony and ex-NBA player Allen Iverson are perfect examples.
Westbrook kept doing what he wanted to do instead of making the extra pass or getting his team involved into the game. His box score stats look awesome, but they don’t mean nothing if OKC doesn’t win the game.
The same could be said about Durant, who scored 28 points. He did little to nothing to offset his 9-of-19 shooting from the field.
OKC lost the advantage of the fast start because they didn’t look to create for anyone else. Westbrook and Durant can score 50 points apiece, they’re still not going to beat the Heat with the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Oh, don’t forget that Shane Battier scored 17 points in Game 1 and 2, and Mario Chalmers dropped 25 points in Game 4. These guys stepped up because they were given the opportunity to shoot and hit big shots for the Heat.
Defensively, the Thunder haven’t picked up on fact the Heat’s role players are playing their roles. Sure, Battier and Chalmers are not scoring 20 points a game, but they’re stepping up and scoring points when James and company are on the bench or locked down.
Instead of actually defending the guys on the perimeter, OKC is playing off, which leads to open shots. This is not a smart idea if it has already been happening for the last three games; time for a new game plan.
A fast start is extremely important in any basketball game, especially in the NBA Finals.
On the other hand, they don’t mean a thing if a team can’t contain the lead they’ve developed. If OKC jumps in front of the Heat by more than 10 points in Game 5, I’m not going to place worry towards the Heat because OKC has proven they don’t know what to do with an early commanding lead.