The Miami Heat played a wonderful first half and did just enough in the fourth quarter to hold off a momentous rally and send thousands of Oklahoma City fans home shaking their heads. Shane Battier might have been the MVP of that game if SF LeBron James did not steal the show and prove himself in the Durant vs. James argument with an identical point line and better numbers everywhere else.
Here are a few adjustments that the Miami Heat can make to assure that the momentum stays in Miami’s corner.
III: Limit the Three Pointers
Yes, the Thunder only hit nine threes to the tune of 34.6%, but to any Heat fan watching it felt like they all dropped with five minutes to go. Oklahoma City Thunder SF Kevin Durant nailed four of them. The majority of Durant’s buckets from deep came in semi-transition, where the ball was pushed to the paint for those who the Heat had back to defend before being kicked to Kevin Durant who licked his chops and dropped them. There is nothing to rile – or silence a crowd like a crisp three pointer.
II: Put OKC’s Forwards in Foul Trouble
One of the best aspects to the Heat’s plans against the superior front court of the Boston Celtics was to run right at them. Granted, the Durantula did in fact foul out with quite a bit of time left, but this is the Finals and nobody cares as much as long as the fans stay in the seats and ratings soar. Could anyone imagine the Spurs in the Finals again? I digress. James and Dwyane Wade are the best players in the NBA at drawing fouls and creating circus three point plays. Putting Kevin Durant in foul trouble early kept him off the floor long enough for Miami to assert themselves without the Thunder having much of a counter punch. The Heat did not use their early bonus in the second quarter as much as they could have. They should have had more foul shots in the half. It might be a smart strategy to deliberately run plays at Durant to draw fouls. He is not a stellar defender, and is likely to reach in or jump early. Without a line of SF Kevin Durant and PF Serge Ibaka, there is a whole lot of space to work with.
I: Rebound More!
It seemed as if during that initial 18-2 lead the Heat could have been up 30-2 if they hit more shots and crashed the boards better. Some of Miami’s biggest plays came off of offensive boards. A lot of fouls can be drawn from simply contesting the glass. C Chris Bosh had an enormous rebounding total, but nobody else truly asserted themselves on the glass. The Heat have a much smaller lineup, but if this means play more bigs, so be it. The duo of SG Dwyane Wade and SF LeBron James can handle the scoring long enough to get a guy like C Joel Anthony in the lineup for some sparks on defense and the glass. The Heat were aggressive and outscored the Thunder by 16 in the paint. Their second chance points were equal. There is no reason why Thunder PG Russell Westbrook should have so many rebounds.
Eric Schmidt is the owner/editor of thepigskinreport.com. You can follow Eric on Twitter @bucco40 and make sure to visit the pigskinreport FB page. Make sure to visit our other sites- hardballchat.com, roundballchat.com and centericechat.com for all of your sports needs.