What Can The Thunder Do To Win Tonight, Avoid Facing Elimination On The Road?
Scott Brooks has to get his team being more fierce on the defensive side of the ball. No more of these "rake LeBron's arms and give him an easy and-one" fouls. If LeBron's about to blow by you, pound his forearms, wrap him up, take him down, whatever. I know Brooks has some Van Gundy in him from his days with the Knicks, and I want to see some Van Gundy violence in that paint. It starts with Kendrick Perkins setting the tone down there; that's what he's here to do. I know it's easier said than done to foul LeBron hard, but these are all professional atheltes and LeBron's not invincible.
The Heat hate those hard fouls. You can see it every time they happen. After a hard (but clean) foul these guys hop up like someone just threw a punch. And it gets to their heads. The Pacers' tough fouls in the paint led the Heat to lose their cool, have two players get suspended, and go down 2-1 to a vastly inferior team.
Another adjustment would be making Westbrook stop bringing up the ball and immediately shooting so often, but no one on Earth could get him to stop doing that.
Finally, I need to see some more fluidity out of the offense down the stretch. Last night it seemed to me like the Thunder just fell back on the "give it to Durant thirty feet from the hoop and let him go to work" play. No matter how good the player is, that "play" can only work so well, especially when no one is hitting jump shots. I would like to see some more off ball screens to get Durant open on curls and whatnot, more of Westbrook taking it to the middle and finding an open man, and just more ball movement in general.
I'm probably just being optimistic, but I'm gonna go ahead and pick the Thunder to win tomorrow night in Miami. I think they know how important this game is. I think Durant comes up BIG and rebounds from his poor fourth quarter performance. I don't see Harden having two straight bad shooting games. I think they keep Bosh off the boards (not completely, just more than in Game 3). I hope to see some outside shots start falling again. Westbrook is always a wild card but I'll just pray that he can be efficient. Battier will return to being... Battier. And I think LeBron will get his numbers but it won't be enough.
And let's be honest, we all want this to go seven games, so I think we're all on the same page here rooting for OKC.