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Unsurprised Thunder Lose to the Heat
06/22/2012 by
Junk, , , , , ,

Unlike most people, I was in the camp that was actually worried when I heard that the Miami Heat were taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2012 NBA Finals.  Most felt that the Thunder were going to tear the Heat a new one.  However, I felt the exact opposite.  I knew at the beginning there was going to be matchup problems off the bat.  Who is going to guard Wade? Who is going to guard Lebron? Double teaming leaves a man open.  Then what do you do? I think after watching the finals, we can clearly point out the flaws with the Thunder.

The Thunder are infamously known as a jump shooting team.  They settle for jump shots.  So what happens when you stop making your shots? As we saw in several games especially Game 5, it puts them down to a momentum deficit that is difficult to make up.

Kevin Durant is good but not great.  Durant has shown in the series that he’s not particularly capable of leading a team like what Lebron and Kobe try to do.  Durant has difficulties creating his own shot when driving into the lane and is not the best passer either.  The one huge perk he has for him are his long arms that hover over even the best of blockers. Throughout the series, Durant has shown how timid he is.  To really be considered some of the best, he needs to step out of that box and step up his game.

Russell Westbrookforgets he has a team.  Growing up playing ball, he was taught to basically trust only himself.  Well, it took them pretty far in Game 4 where he single-handedly kept the Thunder in the game.  However there were many times where he plays 1 on 1 basketball where people spread the court, and he tries to stutter step for the 16 footer.  He probably makes these shots about 3 out of 4 times, but I would still prefer him try to create plays for his team.  I do think Westbrook is the real driving force behind the Thunder.  Unlike Durant, he’s not timid at all.

Kendrick Perkins is a world class dodo.  Perkins is the wrong player in the wrong system.  The Thunder shoot the ball a lot.  Perkins wants to play low post.  The problem with this is that he is a defensive liability.  He cannot keep up with the fast pace nature of the game.  Some of the fouls he committed in the series are blatant dunced moves.  They should get rid of him.

James Harden choked big time.  He’s shown why I felt he was overrated.  In a finals game, you will not get the fouls that you would normally get in the regular season.  In addition, the Miami Heat adapted well to his (lack of) fundamentals.  Harden literally dribbles the ball about 3 feet in front of him begging for someone to steal.  It’s no wonder he was having terrible ball control and is unfit to truly lead this team.  He also choked on open shots and is very unreliable.  James, improve your shot in the offseason and work on your ball handling skills.  People are studying tapes and have identified obvious weaknesses with your shoddy ball dribbling.

Serge Ibaka blocks shots and what else?Whenever I see Ibaka shooting long range shots outside of the key, I throw a virtual raspberry at the tv.  Ibaka should never be shooting.  He should play the low post game, grab boards, and do what big men do.

Basketball IQ was missing on the Thunder.  From poor ball movement to missed layups, the Thunder unfortunately deserved to lose.  I remember when Westbrook had the ball and Durant wanted.  Durant was hounded by Shane Battier.  He was never going to get the ball, yet Westbrook wanted to badly pass the ball to him.  If the player isn’t open, why do you still try to pass to him? Durant’s foul troubles cost the Thunder dearly in Games 2 through 4.  If you can’t steal the ball, why do you still slap a guy’s arms for no reason? Ball movement was clearly missing and the non stars showed why they were non stars.

At the end of the day, the person I lay at fault is Scott Brooks.  I’d say he poorly coached his team against the Heat.  Using Harden to guard Lebron seems like a strange move.  It never worked as Lebron destroyed Harden.  Benching Durant for a long period of time (despite having 4 fouls) in the 3rd quarter when the Thunder lost their lead was a questionable move.  The way the Thunder poorly moved the ball around is reflective of what they’ve done in training camp.  When Harden was stone cold, Brooks still insisted on keeping him in the game.  Harden was a defensive and offensive liability.  He had the look of fear.  Brooks should have taken him out.

There are so many other things I could say about why the Thunder lost and why Brooks was out coached.  But in the end, the Heat won it all.  The Thunder will continue getting better as they are a young team with a lot of talent, but I do hope that Scott Brooks has personally thought about the coaching mistakes he’s made and improves on it next year.