Thunder Use Small Ball To Knockout Heat
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat have needed a wake-up call for the last few months and it may have come in the form of a demolition at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
The Thunder did to Miami what the Heat has done so successfully to every other team in the NBA, playing small ball. After falling down 15-4 in the first quarter, Thunder head coach Scott Brooks removed Kendrick Perkins from the lineup, moved Kevin Durant to power forward, added an extra wing man and took it to the Heat.
Miami, which had a less than 100 percent Dwyane Wade, couldn’t match Oklahoma City’s athleticism Wednesday night. Anytime Miami made a lazy pass or didn’t go all out on a possession, the Thunder made Miami pay.
The Thunder’s Kevin Durant scored 33 points, making it 12 straight games over 30 points for the young superstar in OKC. LeBron James scored 34 points for the Heat, but he couldn’t get going on the glass or get other teammates involved, pulling down just three rebounds and handing out just three assists on the game.
Miami fell back into an old pattern that seemed to have disappeared last season, relying too much on the three-point shot. The Heat always depend on hitting three’s, but last season the Heat moved the ball better and got more open three’s.
Wednesday night, Miami started off the game shooting 2-3 from behind the three-point line; then missed their next 15 three-point shots. Miami finished the game 3-19 from three-point range, or 15.8 percent.
Conversely, Oklahoma was shooting the lights out from behind the three-point line, ending the game 16-27 or nearly 60 percent from downtown.
Miami’s other main problem during the game was turnovers. The Heat turned the ball over on roughly 1 of every 5 possessions in the game, which opened up quick transition baskets for Oklahoma City and kept the Heat from getting into any sort of rhythm.
Dwyane Wade was another problem for the Heat as he played 31 minutes in the game and scored just 15 points, had one rebound, and two assists. Wade just hasn’t been able to put it all together this season and his deteriorating play has hampered the Heat’s ability to play the way they have in years past.
The Heat was blown out at points in the game, but, it took OKC shooting nearly 60 percent from behind the arc to pull out the 17 point victory. OKC won’t be able to do that on a consistent basis in a series, but for Wednesday night, it was all they needed to blow the Heat off the court.
Miami has to do some soul searching in the next few weeks to figure out what to do with both Wade and the team’s defense if it hopes to achieve the elusive three-peat this year.