The Miami Heat have learned some lessons from last season’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals. The Heat did not play well in the fourth quarter but did enough to go up 2-1 over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Miami’s experience really came through last night. Oklahoma City just could not get anything going on offense last night and score their lowest point total of the playoffs. Miami frustrated the Thunder with tough physical defense and on offense the Heat used power moves and decisive cuts to attack the Oklahoma City basket.
Lebron James played a complete game last night he was the go to guy on offense and he help shut down Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter, The critics cannot say that James has disappointed in this years NBA finals. In fact, he has showed the rest of the league how to defend Durant, use physical play. James is using his superior strength to move Kevin Durant away from favorite spots on offense and when he drives James puts forearm on him. It will be interesting how the referees call game four. If they allow both teams to play Durant could be in for another long evening. Miami also made Durant defend that is why he was in foul trouble in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter. The foul trouble really limited Durant’s offensive game in the fourth quarter. He could not drive to the basket with his usual reckless abandon because he was scared about picking up his sixth and final foul of the game. This made him a jump shooter only and easier to defend.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook also had off games last night. Westbrook went back to his old bad habits. He was driving to the basket making bad passes that led to turnovers. The Heat are the best team in the NBA in converting turnovers into easy fast break opportunities. Harden when he is hitting his outside shot really opens up offensive opportunities for Durant and Westbrook. Also he is the only instant offense off the bench for the Thunder. Daequan Cook has the ability to get hot and help Oklahoma City from outside but coach Scott Brooks has used him sparingly in the finals.
The unsung hero of this series is Shane Battier he had another solid game last night. He is making outside shots to keep the Thunder defense honest so James and Dwayne Wade have more space to cut to the basket. Battier is also switching off on defense to defend several Thunder players and he is doing a good job. He is finally showing the versatility that made him a valuable commodity before he signed with the Heat. Oklahoma City still has a chance to win the series but they must mature quickly or this series might end in Miami.
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