Oklahoma City better hope some team in the East can knock off the Miami Heat before the NBA Finals start in June. The Thunder, who have now lost six straight to the Heat (dating back to last year’s Finals) just can’t seem to play their best ball when going up against one of basketballs elite.
The last time these two teams played each other was on another holiday, Christmas Day. That game has the Heat winning 103-97, and the Thunder put up a much better fight in that game than they did last night on Valentines Day. The Heat showed throughout last nights game that they are the more dominant team and the champs for a good reason. The Heat established leads of 15 in the first quarter, and were up by as much as 23 during the third.
If the Thunder are able to get by the Spurs and Clippers to reach the NBA Finals for their second straight year, they will most likely be playing the Heat, and that is not good. Let alone the Thunder struggle to win one game against the Heat, how can they win four in a best of seven series? Should we get a rematch of the 2012 Finals again this year, you can’t help but think Miami will be having championship dreams before Game 1 is even played! Oklahoma City just can’t seem to figure out how to play great Thunder basketball when LeBron James is out on the court.
The Thunder struggle to contain James, and last night was no different. It is nearly impossible for any team to completely contain James, as he was able to score 39 points while only taking 24 shots, which is just filthy. Kevin Durant, one of the best basketball players in the game, doesn’t have the physical physique that LeBron James has. Hell, no one in the NBA is as physically intimidating as James is.
The other question for the Thunder is not only how do we stop LeBron, but how do we score on him as well. James has got to be one of the best defensive players in the game, and was constantly frustrating Durant last night, shooting from the field only 12 for 24. LeBron didn’t let Durant get his open space at all, as was hounding the Durantula all night long. LeBron was playing such great defense that Durant seemed frustrated, and even received a technical during the first half. Oklahoma City relies heavily on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and if they don’t play lights out basketball, especially against the Heat, they will have no chance to compete. Who knows how these past two games would have went between the two if the Thunder still had James Harden coming off of the bench, as he has taken his game to another level in Houston.
Westbrook needs to help take pressure off of Durant
Now, a lot can happen between now and the NBA Finals in June. The only threat to the Thunder out West is the San Antonio Spurs (who sit two games ahead currently) and the Los Angeles Clippers (two games back). In the East, the Heat have a comfortable four game lead on the second place New York Knicks, and let’s face it, unless the Knicks can play perfect basketball, no one from the East is beating Miami in a best of 7 series. So there is a great chance the two teams can meet again in the Finals. The Thunder have a lot of time to correct their mistakes, and hopefully someone is able to knock the Heat off of their throne.