Out of the good adjustments made by coach Scott Brooks, one of those has been regarding the status of franchise player Kevin Durant, who for the past two games has found himself in foul trouble by the fourth quarter.
This has forced Brooks to sit Durant for a longer part of the game than he would like to. OKC needs Durant on the floor to make those key shots that LeBron James is making for the Heat thanks to his lack of foul trouble that he never seems to get in.
Scott Brooks, despite the loss in Game 3, had great halftime adjustments and the Heat only got going after the Thunder committed costly fouls and turnovers that cost them momentum. The Thunder played great for three quarters, but failed to come through again in the fourth quarter.
With a more controlled Russell Westbrook, and a still energetic team early with depth on its bench, Brooks needs to make perhaps the biggest adjustment in this Finals series: find a way to keep Durant out of foul trouble.
Throughout the playoffs Durant has been invaluable in the fourth quarter, and with his size, length, and ability to score from anywhere on the court, the Thunder are in great need of him when it really counts.
One way to keep Durant out of unnecessary foul trouble is to take him away from guarding LeBron James or Dwayne Wade and keep him on a Shane Battier or whatever three point shooting threat is on the floor outside of Wade or James.
By doing this Durant can contest the shot and ease up on the unnecessary fouls he has collected in the first half for the past two games. It's hard for Durant to make an impact when he has to sit for extended periods because of foul problems.
Without Durant, the Thunder have the defensive capability to guard the rest of the Miami Heat with the rotation of players like Thabo Sefolosha,Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, and Derek Fisher. It is essential that Westbrook and Harden provide the energy boost on offense with Kevin Durant, who are all great scorers and know how to distribute the ball well to the rest of their teammates to maintain a balanced offense, something the Heat still struggle with.
While Russell Westbrook and James Harden provide plenty of offense for OKC when Durant is off the court, neither can provide the kind of matchup problems that Durant can, and both do not provide the kind of leadership to carry the team that Durant does.
When he's on the floor, the Thunder are a different kind of team.
In 2009 and 2010 the Lakers relied on Kobe Bryant in the clutch, and by staying out of foul trouble he was able to be there when his team needed him. In 2011, the clutch shots were left to Dirk Nowitzki, and he pulled through for the Dallas Mavericks to claim his first NBA Title. Now, Durant must be there for the Thunder if they are to take that next step towards an NBA Title and an even brighter future.
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