Thunder Don't Take My Advice, Tank In Game 4

6/20/12 in NBA   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Jun 19, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives against Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35)  during the fourth quarter of game four in the 2012 NBA Finals at the American Airlines Arena. Miami won 104-98. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIREThe Thunder broke my heart last night. There's no reasonably possible event in sports right now that I'd like to see more than the Thunder taking out the Heat in the NBA FInals. Last night was just terribly tough to watch for me. I'd just like to follow up on some things I suggested that the Thunder adjust for last night's game.

First of all, I said that Harden shouldn't start and that the Thunder's early-game woes would solve themselves. Well, Harden once again came off the bench, and the Thunder came out of the gate just fine. 33-19 I believe it was after the first quarter. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook don't need Harden to get themselves going (especially when Harden is playing like he has been the past two games).

The Thunder also took Durant off of LeBron for most of the game and stuck Thabo Sefolosha on him, as I suggested. That worked out great, as Durant finished the game with only three personal fouls, and LeBron put up series lows in points and free throw attempts, and also had his second lowest rebounding game of the series. He did manage to rack up twelve assists, but when LeBron takes 20 shots and scores 26 points you kind of just have to be happy with the fact that he could have hurt you a lot worse.

Head coach Scott Brooks went with my first two suggestions and they both worked, but the rest of my suggested adjustments didn't happen.

I said that if the three ball wasn't falling for the Thunder they should give Daequan Cook (42.2% from three in 2010) some minutes. Well, the Thunder were once again awful from behind the arc, going 3 for 16 (18.8%) from three-point territory. Come on, Brooks! Put this guy in, you never know. This team is hitting almost nothing from three, so what do you have to lose? Plus, the bench last night combined for 14 points last night. As a matter of fact, outside of Westbrook and Durant, the most points anyone scored for the Thunder was 8. Wow. That is wildly pathetic. Give Cook some minutes, would ya?

I didn't see the aggression and ferocity I wanted to see in the paint either. Only two blocked shots. No hard fouls. And most pathetic of all statistics, in my opinion, was the frontcourt of Durant, Ibaka, Perkins, and Collison combining for 16 rebounds. That is a complete joke. Well I guess it's not actually a joke, but it seems like it should be. Kevin Love nearly averaged that by himself this season. The Thunder were 6th in the league in rebounding this year. The Heat? 21st. Rebounding is supposed to be a huge advantage for the Thunder in this series and they're getting beat on the boards. The Heat out-rebounded them 40-35. That's just a shame.
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6/20/12   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

My bad, by tank I meant more of "bury themselves in a 3-1 hole" than "get blown out."

The ball handling actually hasn't been terrible, they're averaging less turnovers than the Heat in the series and are averaging almost 6 less than they did in the regular season. But yeah the free throws are definitely an issue (thought last night they shot well but just didn't get to the line enough), and plays like Westbrook's foul after the jump ball just can't happen.

And I also agree I can't wait to see what happens if they can keep Durant/Westbrook/Harden/Ibaka all together into their primes.

6/20/12   |   Scott   |   49501 respect

Down by 3 with 15 seconds left is hardly room to say a team "tanked".  Once again, the inexperienced Thunder made too many bad decisions at crucial times and the Heat took advantage.  This series could easily be 3-1 Thunder had they taken better care of the ball, made their free throws and not had those mental lapses.  The best thing is the core nucleus of this franchise is in their early 20's which means the skies the limit.  They took the step up this year to get to the NBA Finals and next year, who's to say they won't take the next step and be champs