The Thunder came into this series as the favorite, but after they won Game 1 convincingly Miami has come back to win the next three straight games.
Oklahoma City has shown throughout the playoffs that its youth is not a crutch—defeating teams filled with more experienced rosters like the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs.
However, in this year’s finals it seems as if last year’s Western Conference Finals matchup against the Dallas Mavericks is happening all over again.
In 2011 the Thunder lost 4-1 to the Mavericks, who ended up winning the 2011 NBA Championship.
There are some similarities between those Western Conference Finals and this year’s NBA Finals.
In both series the Thunder split the first two games. The Mavericks would go on to win the next three straight games, and now the Heat could accomplish the same thing with a win in Game 5 tonight.
Also, each opponent was able to contain Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
For the Mavericks it was Shawn Marion, and against the Heat it has been the physical defense of LeBron James.
Durant is still able to score, as he is one of the best offensive players in the league, but the effort that goes into scoring has left him unable to do other things on the court—rebound, defend—at the level he’s accustomed to.
After last season’s playoff run, Russell Westbrook received the bulk of the blame due to his inconsistent play against Dallas.
In the finals it has been Sixth Man of The Year recipient James Harden who has yet to show up in this series and who is causing concern for the Thunder.
Oklahoma City was also unable to connect from the three-point line in either series.
Against Dallas the Thunder shot 27.5 percent from deep, and they are currently shooting 27.3 percent versus the Heat.
Game 4 was a devastating lost for OKC as the Thunder jumped out to a 17-point lead on Miami, but ended up losing the game.
In Game 4 of last year’s Western Conference Finals the Thunder wilted away a 15-point lead and allowed the Mavericks to take the game in overtime.
Westbrook has also exploded for big games in each series.
He totaled 31 points, seven rebounds and five assists in Game 5 against the Mavericks, and on Tuesday night he poured in a playoff-high 43 points along with eight rebounds and five assists.
Both games though resulted in losses for Oklahoma City.
The main problem in both series is that the Thunder were unable to stop the other team’s superstar.
In the 2011 Western Conference Finals Dirk Nowitzki averaged 32.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG.
In the first four games of the finals LeBron James is averaging 29.25 PPG, eight RPG and six APG.
Try to defeat the Dallas Mavericks or Miami Heat when you are letting their superstars produce numbers like that.
The biggest similarity comes down to the end of the game. The last three games of the NBA Finals have all come down to the final minutes. In each game the Thunder have been unable to execute down the stretch.
The same troubles plagued Oklahoma City against the Mavericks last season. The Thunder were able to hang close in multiple games, but in the end they couldn’t close out the game.
Game 5 is tonight in Miami again, and if the Thunder don't want to see history repeat itself they are going to need to play like they did when they defeated the Spurs four straight games.
As the saying goes, if you don’t learn from the past then you are bound to repeat it.
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