The Thunder dropped another gut-wrenching game last night, losing in Miami by 6. The Thunder are now down in the series 2-1, but unlike in the last round, they have dropped two after winning the first. OKC has to figure out a way to regain its mojo, and has precious little time to do it.
Mayberry writes a lot about the foul calling disparity here. I really would prefer not to dwell on it in this space, so if you want to indulge, I think most of his arguments are on point. In the end though, it doesn't matter. A team that isn't getting calls has to resolve in their hearts and minds that they are going to win the game in spite of it.
I agree with Young - in the 2nd half, the Thunder needed more of Russell Westbrook, not Westbrook on the bench. I know he had a string of poor decisions, but to remove a key offensive creator at such a tenuous moment was a mistake. I thought Brooks should have started running the offense through James Harden and moved Westbrook off the ball.
Arnovitz writes a great piece here about the entire philosophy of sitting Kevin Durant down when he picked up his 4th foul. In retrospect, it was easy to see that Scott Brooks thought he had a cushion to play with, but once the Heat got their six straight free throws, Brooks really should have come back with both Durant and Russell Westbrook. The game was swung during those few minutes.
The SB Nation Heat site reviews Game 3, noting how the Heat continued to persevere while the Thunder slowly bled out in the end.
The Heat overcame a host of poor play in the second half to hold on in the end. The flip side of it all is that The Thunder played some tenacious defense against the high-flying Heat and put themselves in a position to win. This is replicable behavior, so OKC can hang their hats on a level of play that will give them a chance in Game 4.
There's nothing like looking at data to help ease the pain.
The Thunder, despite their struggles in the 3rd, still had plenty of opportunities to win in the 4th. Unfortunately the Thunder seemed to regress on offense at the worst possible time.
Metta World Peace showed up on Twitter during Game 3 and had some choice words for his on-court nemesis, James Harden.
James Harden had another rough outing, and concluded his performance with an obvious flop at a terrible juncture. The general rule is that in a situation like this, you either foul early to save time or don't foul at all and play straight up defense. Harden chose the middle path, and therefore OKC lost on both ends.