Thunder vs. Heat Game 4: Keys to Miami Taking Commanding Series Lead
The Miami Heat should ride their incredibly shrinking lineup to a huge Game 4 win that will all but guarantee them a championship.
A win for the Heat in Game 4 would put the Oklahoma City Thunder down 3-1, and while teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA, they have never done it the NBA finals, and the Thunder would not be able pull that off against this talented and determined Heat squad.
So this presents an opportunity for the Heat to make a huge statement in front of their own fans on Tuesday night. Here is what they need to do to pull out this win.
Keep Working the Small Ball
Who will win Game 4?
As it was alluded to above, the Heat's lineup is shrinking. They are going more and more to a vertically-challenged lineup. Chris Bosh is spending most of his time at center, and in Game 3, the only other traditional power forward or center to get minutes for the Heat was Udonis Haslem, and he played just 14 minutes.
This shrinking lineup is working nicely. The Thunder do not have a go-to big in the post to exploit their height advantage. This leaves them to try and gain an advantage with their length on the glass, but that isn't happening.
The Heat may be small, but they can board. LeBron James is the best rebounder on the floor, and Bosh has put a renewed focus on hitting the boards. Don't forget that Dwyane Wade is an excellent rebounder from the backcourt.
In Game 3, the Heat out-rebounded the Thunder, 31-27.
This smaller lineup allows the Heat's most talented players to get on the court, and it still matches up nicely with the Thunder in all phases of the game.
Make Durant Work
The Heat were able to get Kevin Durant out his game in Game 3 by getting him into a little foul trouble. This isn't likely to happen again.
Referees don't seem to like putting MVP-caliber players into foul trouble on the big stages, and certainly not two games in a row.
That said, the Heat don't need this to throw Durant off his game. KD is still going to get his points, but the Heat can keep him from taking over. To do that, they have to make him work for everything.
This starts with playing hard and physical with him when he does not have the ball. Make him work just to get open. This will do two things: It will prevent him from hitting a groove, and it will lead to Russell Westbrook taking more shots. Both are good for the Heat.
The other thing is, they need to go at him when he is on defense. Take it right to him. When he is on LeBron, they should post him up as much as possible. Try to wear him down and sap some of that juice from his legs.
Find the Hot Hand
Shane Battier can't really keep shooting like this, can he? The dude is draining threes like they are lay-ins.
If he continues that hot touch, this task will be easy for the Heat. If he doesn't, then they need to find someone else that can.
Miami needs at least one player outside of the big three to be knocking down shots. It is vital to its floor spacing, and it makes it almost impossible to defend.
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