The Miami Heat went into Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead and chance to really put the Oklahoma City Thunder in a hole with a victory. They fell behind early, 33-16, battled back and showed poise in the final minutes to accomplish just that.
The Thunder’s chances at winning a title now look the bleakest since they went down 0-2 in the Western Conference Finals. They still haven’t played perfect or their best basketball but they’ve been in every game and had chances to win in each.
LeBron James nearly had a triple-double in Game 4 scoring 26 points to go with 12 assists and nine rebounds. He’ll be the Finals MVP if the Heat win and he’ll silence many of his critics.
Kevin Durant got off to a great start in these Finals. He scored 36 points in a Game 1 victory and averaged 16.5 fourth quarter points through the first two games.
Things changes in Miami for Durant. His weaknesses were exploited on defense and he got into uncharacteristic foul trouble.
It’s easy to live in the moment in life and sports. Most people do. But the NBA is all about its history and legacies.
It’s time to take a step back…
What are we really seeing?
We’re watching an NBA Finals loaded with stars, some in their primes and some still in their cribs.
The Heat are supposed to win the title right about now. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are each in the ninth season in the NBA. Doesn’t that sound about right for them winning?
The Thunder’s best years are far ahead of them. It was impressive enough for them to even make it to the NBA Finals this year at such a young age. Their talent has given us glimpses of what the future of the league is going to look like for years.
Durant and Westbrook are 23 and Harden and Ibaka are 22. They don’t have to win a title yet. No one really expected them too. The only thing that made us believe they could is that they were better than the Heat this season and they are more talented. But in this series, not enough things have gone their way and here they are down 3-1.
A time will come when everything seems to go the Thunder’s way. They’ll get all of the calls, make all of the important shots and watch their opponent make all of the big mistakes. That’s what happens in this league. Rarely can you cheat your time for winning a title.
In three years, we’ll look back and say…
Watching this Thunder team in this NBA Finals is frustrating. It’s so hard to watch them and not think about their potential and seeing them not hit it is downright annoying.
No matter what happens the rest of this series, a few years from now we’ll look back on these games and chuckle at what the Thunder were, so young and so talented, not totally understanding how to harness and use it in the best way.
Here’s what Thunder fans will say three years from now:
- There was a time where Durant struggled this much to get open. They couldn’t get him the ball sometimes? Why is he isolating at the 3-point line and not in the post? He’s so much better at defense now.
- How is Russell not getting more calls? What are these insane 3-pointers he takes 2-3 times per game? I can’t remember the last time I saw someone score on Russell. How come the Heat defense actually freezes in time when he drives to the rim?
- Look at Harden’s beard! It’s so short!
- I don’t miss the days when Serge didn’t have a post game. Why isn’t Serge playing 40-plus minutes and why does he ever sit the fourth? I can’t imagine anyone scoring in the paint against us anymore.
But it’s still not over
These aren’t excuses for the Thunder being down 3-1 and potentially losing this series. It’s just the big picture of things. Athletes can’t look at it this way and diehard fans can’t either but it is the reality of the situation.
The Thunder can still win this series. The odds are against them now more than ever. Since 1985, when the NBA Finals went to the 2-3-2 format, no team down 3-1 has ever come back to win the series let alone force a Game 7.
The Thunder are one win away from going back home to the best crowd in the NBA. They are looking at this like now like that too. They just need to win one, Game 5.
Watching OKC all year it’s hard to ever imagine them losing four in a row. They haven’t all season. Since they’ll never give up or stop playing hard, I wouldn’t bet against them in Game 5. It’s a game made for the resiliency of this team.
The Heat know this too and they surely don’t want to go back to Oklahoma City. We’re not going to see one of those “Heat didn’t show up games.” We’ll see another close game just like the first four. The last three have gone Miami’s way, the next three could just as easily go OKC’s way.