The great Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games but team work and intelligence wins championships.” The NBA finals is all about winning and having bragging rights all through the summer and until next year when/if someone else takes the crown. The Miami Heat are now 2-1 against the vigorous Thunder team, and even though there’s only 2 more games they must win, it will not be easy. Remember last year against the Dallas Mavericks? They were also up 2-1. So, here are some key things that they Miami Heat must stay consistent in doing to win these next two games and reach their objective.
1. Foul Trouble- the Miami Heat had Durant and Harden right where they wanted him in Game 3. Having your best players with 3 fouls only entering the fourth quarter is not ideal for your team, especially only being down 2 points, chances of winning still being high. But, contesting shots will be harder and your defense will be passive due to your foul trouble and that ultimately means free baskets for Miami. So, if Miami can keep key players in foul trouble, they have the Thunder where they want them.
2. Points in the Paint- who is stopping LeBron James when he penetrates the paint? Yeah, that’s a no-brainer. So, when LeBron is making his way into the paint, he’ll either make the basket, get fouled, or both. Wade is good for this also. He’ll get fouled, throw it up in an insane, twisted shot and somehow makes it. This coincides with the foul trouble concept as well. Most fouls occur for Miami right in the yellow paint area. Basically, just move over if you see LeBron or Wade coming.
3. Hot Jump Shooters- Battier and Chalmers are the “others” on the Heat but they add so much substance to the offense of the team. James Jones also had a couple of key treys in Game 3 as well. These shots not only help lengthen the lead but give all the momentum to the home team, especially when they are made off of the fast break.
4. Defense/Stops- Miami is one of the great defensive teams of the league and if they keep the Thunder on lock, they can get stops and then go to the other end and get a basket. The Thunder went over 4 minutes without scoring in the fourth quarter. In the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics, specifically Game 5, both teams “traded baskets” so to speak. Miami would make a shot, then with bad transition defense, the Celtics would race down the court and come right back. Therefore, the Heat must continue to have good defense and transitional defense and continue to keep their shooting percentage well.
5. Turnovers- Dwyane Wade committed the same exact turnover in Game 3 as he did in Game 2. With Sefolosha making the basket off of the steal, it cut the lead down to 3, Miami didn’t make a shot on the other end, and Westbrook then cut the lead to 1. Also, they had 8 turnovers in the fourth quarter alone. Everybody loses the ball sometimes but they must limit their turnover because that possession could have acquired the Heat supplementary points.
6. Big 3 Dominance- self-explanatory really. LeBron is averaging 30 points in the playoffs but his supremacy cannot win games for the Miami Heat. What did MJ say? Team work wins championships. Both of these playoffs must be the key players in these last two games, along with Chris Bosh of course. I remember in an episode of Inside the NBA when Chris Bosh was hurt, Kenny Smith brought out a valid point. LeBron can play without Wade and Wade can play without LeBron but it’s difficult to play without Bosh for either of these players because they play off of him. That makes perfect sense. Wade is starting to show that he’s still got it through all the scrutiny he’s gone through so the big 3 must stay consistent.
There are other techniques the Heat can utilize to win these last two games such as free throws (because they absolutely do win games), containing Durant and also Harden, who has been fairly quiet and also playing until there is 0 seconds on the clock. Never get stagnant because there is a comfortable lead because, in the finals, no lead is safe especially when you have Kevin Durant on your team (via Game 2). The Heat almost let that one slip away. So, did I miss anything? Thoughts? Concerns? Feel free to let me know! But, I hope everyone tunes into Game 4 tonight. Happy watching.