Thunder vs Heat: 2012 Finals Game 3 Grades

The Thunder fell apart in the 3rd quarter and surrendered a second FInals game to the Heat. OKC now faces the task of a huge Game 4, and they must do it knowing that their key players have yet to play a consistent 48 minute game.

***

KEVIN DURANT

25 points on 11-19 shooting, 6 REB, 1 ST, 2 BL, 5 TO


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_cminus_medium
5 fouls and 5 turnovers are hard to ignore, and so are the lack of rebounds and lack of points. His defense was adequate, but he was constantly in foul trouble, and lost effectiveness late in the game. I'm not going to rail on the guy, since it was a good game by most players' accounts. But after what I've seen of KD, I've come to expect just a little bit more from him.
Sherman's Grade Grade_cplus_medium
The problem that Kevin Durant is running into these past two games is really the difference between him and LeBron James at this intersection of their careers. Durant is the superior scorer, but LeBron is the superior defender. So when the two match up head to head, LeBron is going at Durant hard enough to lower Durant's scoring prowess to the point where LeBron is better at that too. Durant is starting to flail in the same way we saw against Dallas last year, taking bad shots, playing bad angles, and getting nervous when the hard defense comes. Scott Brooks has to free him up in some way so that the series is no longer LeBron vs KD.

RUSSELL WESTBROOK

19 points on 8-18 shooting, 5 REB, 4 AST, 2 BL, 2 TO


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_cplus_medium
He totally shut down Chalmers, which is huge when you're playing the Heat. But he wasn't as offensively active as he was during the first two games, and he let Harden bring up the ball a couple of times. I guess that's not necessarily bad, especially when he isn't doing well offensively. But other than those two things, it was par for the course for Westbrook overall. When you take a look at the fact that he missed a game-tying three late in the game though, you have to dock him.
Sherman's Grade Grade_b_medium
All people are going to remember from Game 3 is the stretch where Russell Westbrook made 4 consecutive poor plays in a row (if you want to consider taking an open 3-pointer to be a 'bad play') and was subsequently benched. Up to that point however, Westbrook had been doing exactly what his team needed from him. He was hitting his mid-range jumper, he was finishing at the rim, and he was doing it under control. Perhaps his aggression got out of hand for a small stretch when KD went out and Westbrook felt he had to take over, but he was getting the job done in a hotly contested game. OKC needs more Westbrook, not less.

JAMES HARDEN

9 points on 2-10 shooting, 6 REB, 6 AST, 2 ST, 2 TO


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_dplus_medium
His defense was above average, since he got a couple of steals and usually had good positioning. But beyond that, his small size was exploited a lot, and Wade was able to take it inside against him. Offensively, he was a nice point guard, but his shooting was terrible. He stuck to the perimeter a lot, and hardly ever took the ball inside. Wade won the matchup by a mile. So while he did a few good things, they can't really outweigh the void in our offense that Harden didn't fill.
Sherman's Grade Grade_cminus_medium
James Harden's numbers are substandard for him and therefore is the most glaring problem with his Game 3, but I'm willing to give him a little bit of the doubt because Harden did corral 6 rebounds and hand out 6 assists. Unfortunately for him, he was put in a very difficult situation where he had to guard LeBron on one end (and did surprisingly well) and then be the focal point for the offense during the most critical stretch of the game. Harden is a superb shooting guard, but games like this reveal that he's not quite Super-man yet. He still has limitations that he must play through, and when he is the only playmaker on the court against an aggressive Heat defense, he is going to struggle.

More grades after the jump.

SERGE IBAKA

5 points on 2-5 shooting, 5 REB, 2 BL, 0 TO


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_d_medium
Agh. No rebounding, not too much offensive aggressiveness, missed jumpers during a critical time, and bad defense on Battier. At least he got his blocks.
Sherman's Grade Grade_c_medium
I liked Serge Ibaka's energy better in this game, but once again he did not put out the kind of performance that a defensive POY candidate should be on the defensive end. As a result, Ibaka only got 22 minutes of play and again struggled on the defensive rebounding front. In particular, he was one of the culprits responsible for letting LeBron gather up so many of his own misses and then go strong for the put-backs. That said, Ibaka still was a difference-maker, as the Heat are finding it more and more difficult to get shots at the rim (only 65 points after the 1st quarter).

DEREK FISHER

9 points on 3-8 shooting, 2 ST, 2 TO


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_b_medium
I think Fisher's defensive play can be a little bit underrated sometimes. That or I haven't been paying enough attention to him earlier in the season. He was great at keeping good position on his assignment, knowing where the Heat's passing lanes were, and getting the ball to a faster player who can actually finish on the break. And his offense was alright, despite being embarrassed a couple of times.
Sherman's Grade Grade_cplus_medium Derek Fisher played a solid Game 3, but we really saw the limitations of his game as his minutes have risen. Despite playing 28 minutes, Fisher's statistics simply do not scale. He is going to give you what he gives you - a few 3-point shots, some aggressive old-man defense, rarely a turnover, and that's about it regardless of whether he's playing 15 minutes or 25. His 4-point play was huge, but there was nothing left after that which warranted Fisher getting offensive looks. His blocked layup in the 4th was particularly egregious, because at a key moment in the game he was going right at Udonis Haslem from 30 feet away. Haslem just had to wait on Fisher to arrive and then had the easy block.

KENDRICK PERKINS

10 points on 3-5 shooting, 12 REB, 1 BL, 0 TO


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_aminus_medium
For the most part, he shut down whoever was in the paint for the Heat. He also rebounded well, managed to score through good positioning in the paint.....and that's about all you need Perk to do.
Sherman's Grade Grade_aminus_medium Kendrick Perkins bounced back in a major way in Game 3. After getting ripped apart pretty much everywhere we turned from his inept play through 2 games, Perkins once again took the criticism, adjusted his game, and came back strong, just like he did against the Spurs. He was the Thunder's best offensive big man on the night, and OKC must have offensive contribution from its bigs if they are going to be able to take any pressure off of the Thunder 'Big 3.'

THABO SEFOLOSHA

6 points on 3-8 shooting, 2 REB, 1 AST, 3 ST, 1 BL, 2 TO


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_bplus_medium
Sefolosha was all over the map tonight, and was almost the hero of the game with a steal and dunk late in the fourth. But most will remember him for his missed pass to Westbrook on the inbounds play which essentially sealed the Thunder's fate. You've just gotta take the good with the bad, I guess.
Sherman's Grade Grade_bplus_medium Thabo Sefolosha once again proved why he is one of the best perimeter defenders in the game. He stepped up to deal with LeBron when called upon, and when that wasn't happening he made Dwyane Wade look mediocre with great open-court defense, including a key steal and slam in the 4th. I have to dock Thabo some points however because, as much as we like to say any offense from him is a bonus, that is turning out to be not enough. Thabo has missed a number of shots right at the rim this series and is only shooting 1-7 from 3-point range. He is going to have to knock down open shots if the Thunder are going to win one of the next two games.

NICK COLLISON

2 points, 2 REB, 1 ST, 0 TO


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_dplus_medium
In limited minutes Nick Collison demonstrated some nice defensive positioning and had a couple of good offensive plays (despite one of them ending in two missed free throws), but he was also a part of the Thunder's worst lineups of the night, and he fouled way too easy.
Sherman's Grade Grade_c_medium Nick Collison once again played low minutes, but it was mostly because he picked up 4 quick fouls in only 13 minutes of play. In the first half the Thunder were doing a poor job at keeping the Heat out of the lane, and as a result often Collison was the last line of defense and had to foul to prevent open shots. Those things will happen, but the I think the Thunder are still missing a big opportunity in using Collison on offense. He still has an accurate jump shot to use as well as the ability to cut to the rim. The Heat's trapping defense has holes and Collison knows how to exploit them; he needs to be ready to step up.

DAEQUAN COOK

0 points in 3 minutes


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_c_medium
He played in Game 3?
Sherman's Grade Grade_c_medium Yes, he did play in Game 3.

SCOTT BROOKS


Grade Comments
Zorgon's Grade Grade_bplus_medium
Brooks' out of bounds plays are still terrible, and they've always been terrible. But tonight, I think he made some great adjustments. He got the big men involved, and found a semi-workable solution for guarding open three point shooters without opening the paint up too much. He didn't let Bosh get any open jumpers and heck, I support his decision to take KD out in the fourth. Most of what happened to cause the loss tonight was out of his control.
Sherman's Grade Grade_dplus_medium
Scott Brooks came in with a great defensive game plan, and after the 1st quarter, it worked remarkably well. His 'pack it in the paint' strategy held the Heat to only 30.8% shooting from the floor and an abysmal % from any shot that came outside of the lane. He has the right defensive formula for replication. However, he gets heavily dinged for his mismanagement at the end of the 3rd quarter, where he left his 2nd unit on the floor with Harden as the only additional playmaker and promptly surrendered a double-digit lead. He followed that up with poor offensive strategy in the 4th quarter, where even an average 4th would have spelled a win. He must do a better job at getting his best players open in their favorite spots; the pressure is on him in Game 4 as much as anybody.
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