Should the Oklahoma City Thunder Add James Harden to the Starting Lineup?
In the first quarter of both Games 1 and 2 in the NBA Finals, the Miami Heat pummeled the Oklahoma City Thunder. In Game 1, the Thunder were down by seven points after 12 minutes of play, and in Game 2, the score was 27-15 in favor of the Miami Heat.
In Game 1, the Heat were unable to hang onto their lead as the Thunder outscored them by 18 in the second half. Then, in Game 2, OKC outscored Miami again in the second half, but this time it was only by eight, and that wasn’t enough to win the game.
After failing to close out the Thunder in Game 1, Miami was able to finish them off in Game 2, and now the Thunder need to improve the way that they start games.
The main problem for the Thunder is that they have struggled right out of the gate. Before four minutes had passed in Game 1, the Thunder were already down 10-2. Then, in Game 2, the Heat got out to an 18-2 advantage after 7:21 had gone by in the period.
Looking at the numbers—especially the fact that OKC’s starting lineup was only able to score two points in more than seven minutes (at home nonetheless)—it is obvious that the Thunder have struggled to get into an offensive rhythm at the start of games. Now, Scott Brooks might have a few ideas on how to spark his offense from the opening tip, but a dramatic change might be necessary.
This series is shifting back to Miami and if the Thunder get down early, they won’t have a crowd cheering them on to get back into the game. It will be much tougher to make a comeback on the road, so it is imperative that the Thunder figure out a way to get their offense going early.
One change that Scott Brooks must be considering is inserting James Harden into the starting lineup. The Beard is instant offense—he is as lethal as Manu Ginobili when it comes to finding a way to get in the lane and score a lay-up, and he is money from downtown.
The drawback is that while adding Harden to the starting lineup would cause a lot of problems for the Heat, it would also mess up the rotations that the Thunder have used all season. Bringing Harden off the bench makes it easier for Brooks to be sure he has a legitimate offensive threat in the game when Russell Westbrook and Durant come out, and just as importantly it helps Harden stay fresh so he can play the majority of the fourth quarter.