The Thunder dropped Game 2 of the NBA Finals last night, their first loss on their home court in these playoffs and have thus ceded home court advantage to the Miami Heat. The teams now travel to play Game 3 in Miami Sunday night, and OKC has a few days to stew over how poorly they played last night. They have the tools to do it, but playing the Heat on defense is kind of like playing the Spurs on offense - you have to be fully prepared for what is coming and where the opportunities lie. If a team goes in trying to wing it, their efforts fall apart very quickly, and the pair of Game 2's vs the Spurs and Heat demonstrate this assertion nicely.
Mayberry argues that Miami imposed its will on OKC and the Thunder never stood a chance, but I think that is stretching things a bit. This wasn't Game 2 vs the Spurs, where it looked like the two teams were playing two different sports. OKC fell behind early, but even though they played poorly the rest of the way still played better than the Heat, whose own offense was not exactly a thing of beauty either. OKC should be mad but not discouraged.
The 1st quarter was the difference, unfortunately. The Thunder players knew it too. Young has some great quotes from Kevin Durant about refusing to make excuses for his missed shot at the end. If you read it carefully though, you can see between the lines - the reporters who are asking the questions think Durant was fouled, too.
Here is some more analysis of that final play. It is unfair to really pick apart Durant's attempt to score here, but I gotta say, if you look at the angle he has on LeBron James when he catches the ball, I think a power dribble could have gotten him right to the rim for a dunk. Sometimes you have to make the refs call the foul, and Durant's little fadeaway didn't give them enough reason to think the contact was enough to warrant free throws.
Sharp makes a good point about the totality of the event and I know he's right, but I would have far preferred an imperfect Finals that featured 4 Thunder wins in a row.
Perrin writes that the referees' blown call at the end of the game dispels the notion that the refs just wanted to let the players decide. In the words of Geddy Lee, "if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice."
Shane Battier has come out of nowhere to play a major role on the OFFENSIVE end of the court in the early going. OKC needs to understand that he's found a groove and is going to keep making open shots. If they have to help off of LeBron or Wade, so be it; LeBron & Wade are going to have success regardless, but the Thunder cannot allow Battier to continue to beat them.
I have a feeling that there will always be clamor for Scott Brooks to be replaced, but what he has done in these past 3 years has been remarkable.
Ziller argues that when the chips are down and both James Harden and Serge Ibaka are up for contract extensions, only one of them is truly worth investing in long term.
Bomani Jones takes issue with David Stern's position during his tete-a-tete with Jim Rome. Stern's failure to deal with negative perceptions has been one of his long-standing failings, and Jones calls him out on it.
Charlotte GM Rich Cho is trying to replicate the work he accomplished in OKC and is not afraid to tout his past achievements. No problems with that here; the team (and the Bobcats especially) could use more guys who are willing to do the grind to make their teams better.
"I don’t know anything about Angola, but Angola’s in trouble."
Mr. Creosote Blows Up (via drose1976)