Game 4 of the NBA Finals will take place tonight in South Beach with the Miami Heat up two games to one. The Thunder need to make some adjustments in order to win Game 4.
LeBron James has established himself as the dominant player for Miami. His 29 points in Game 3 snapped his streak of scoring 30+ points in five consecutive games. He played Durant incredibly tough defensively, and forced KD into foul trouble early in the game.
The Thunder showed their youth and inexperience again in Game 3. With about five minutes left in the third quarter, Durant picked up his fourth foul and was shown the bench. Thunder coach Scott Brooks then took his other superstar Russell Westbrook out of the game, somewhat inexplicably.
The Heat took the momentum and ran, and ended up winning the game.
Brooks most likely took Westbrook out to allow him to regain some focus. He was playing erratically and forcing shots. With Durant hampered by fouls, Westbrook was feeling the pressure to produce and it was not working. Unfortunately for Brooks and the Thunder, the move cost them. Miami took the lead and never looked back.
The Thunder have been the best free throw shooting team in the playoffs, but really faltered in Game 3 shooting just 62 percent, compared to their usual 82 percent. The Heat figured out that taking the ball to the rack was the way to beat the inexperienced Thunder. They shot almost 90percent from the charity stripe, accounting for 31 points.
The Heat also took away the Thunder's potent fast-break offense, limiting them to just 12 points. Miami did a good job getting back on defense, a point clearly emphasized by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
The Thunder would like to get a win in tonight's Game 4, but to do that they will need to change some things. The Heat are vastly more experienced, and are making the in-game adjustments much better than OKC.
Kevin Durant needs to be much more careful with his fouls. The Heat are clearly going right at him to force him into foul trouble early, and so far it's worked. Durant is a smart player. I expect him to adjust his game tonight, but he is still just 23 years old, so we'll see if he can do that. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins need to step up and help Durant when his man drives so the fouls can be spread around.
Westbrook needs to play his game and quit forcing shots. The Heat cannot stay in front of him when he drives, so he will need to attack the basket much more. As a team, the Thunder have to regain their focus at the free throw line, and stop committing silly fouls.
The Heat will continue to do what has been working: allow James to run the offense, have Wade be a secondary scorer, and let the rest of the team make open shots.
I expect Game 4 to be a close game, but I see the Heat winning. James is too focused and dialed in offensively. The Heat are going to continue to attack the rim and making the Thunder foul them. Durant and Westbrook will bounce back, but LeBron and Wade will be too much for them. I predict a score of Miami 103-OKC 98. It should be a great game.
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