With the 2012 NBA Finals all square at 1-1 everyone is taking their talents to South Beach for the next chapter. Game 3 - Oklahoma City Thunder @ Miami Heat 10am AEST Monday 18th of June 2012
What Now for the Thunder?Things did not start well for the Thunder in Game 2 as they left their home fans standing for 3 whole minutes before making a basket and allowing them to sit down. This was all part of an 18-2 run by Miami that effectively gave them the game as the Thunder were down by 10+ for most of the game. A late rally almost provided a miracle comeback victory but they were effectively behind the eight ball the entire game because of their first 7 minutes. The good news to come out of the loss is that not much needs to change, even now the action shifts to the playground of Miami. Durant, Westbrook and Co are playing great ball right now and don't look like they are showing signs of fading in the big moments. They are taking smart shots, moving the ball well, cutting down on turnovers and generally playing good defence. Everything they need to succeed against the Miami Heat they are doing and if not for a bad start on Saturday they would be leading 2-0 and looking to steal an away win. Unfortunately for them they slipped in Game 2 and Miami pounced off the play of Wade, James and the extraordinary shooting of Battier (17 points 5-7 3PT). The only major concern for them right now is Kendrick Perkins and his foul trouble but when you have Mr Reliable in Nick Collison coming off the bench these worries tend to be eased quite a bit. It also wouldn't hurt their cause to start double teaming LeBron when he starts his post moves on weaker defenders such as Harden. Things to Do Better - Keep Miami out of the paint, get the bigs involved offensively, cut down on the fouls and shoot better from the FT line (73% in Game 2). Things to Keep Doing - Keep getting the ball to Kevin Durant in open spaces, pass the ball from side to side and penetrate the paint to exploit Miami's front court weakness.
Heat Check for MiamiGame 2 for Miami was critical for Miami given the 2-3-2 format of the NBA Finals (not a fan of the format myself) because now all they have to do is take care of business on their home court. Simple right? Well not really given the level of competition they are facing. Miami will still feel confident they can win from here on out with Chris Bosh back in the starting line up and LeBron James playing like he wants to win. A concern for Miami though is their bench play with Coach Spo not seeming to trust anyone for longer than 15 minutes a game (even Derek Fisher got 24 minutes in Game 2). As a result the bench scored a total of 8 points (James Harden scored 21 alone off the OKC bench) and the question has to be raised, what will happen when if the Miami starters get tired? Riding the starters all the way might come unstuck for Miami when Battier starts shooting normal percentages (he is shooting 70% for the series so far) and they need a more effective scoring option on the wing. There are also the questions surrounding Dwyane Wade's inconsistent play in the playoffs so far and a poor game by the aging vet, who has conceded that he isn't the player he used to be, might be the difference between a W and a L. Things to Do Better - Get a body into Durant and take away his space, keep the game fast paced and don't revert back to being a jump shooting team. Things to Keep Doing - Let LeBron go to town in the post against Sefolosha and Harden, penetrate the paint to draw fouls, rebound well and trust your outside shooters.
My PredictionOklahoma City Thunder by 4 The Thunder will know how important this game is given Miami have home court advantage for the next 3 games. I expect them to come out firing and hold off Miami in another close game.
What are your thoughts on Game 3 and do you think the Thunder can upset the Heat?