The Oklahoma City Thunder are now down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat after losing Game 4 on the road 104-98.
The Thunder are now in a very tough position. Being down 3-1 in the NBA Finals is nothing short of a death sentence. Never has a team come back from down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to win the series and since the format changed to 2-3-2 in 1985, no team down 3-1 has even come back to force a Game 7.
Only eight teams in the history of the NBA Playoffs have come back from down 3-1 to win the series, most recently in the first round of 2006 when the Phoenix Suns came back to beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
It has to happen eventually though right? And aren’t the Thunder a perfect candidate to be the first to do it?
There are a few reasons to remain optimistic about the Thunder’s chances.
The Thunder have yet to play their best basketball
If the Thunder were playing great basketball and still losing, it would feel like they have less of a chance to come back and win the series. But the fact of the matter is that the Thunder have not played all that well yet in this series.
Sure, that has a lot to do with the Miami Heat but the Thunder are beating themselves a lot too. With the games still being so close, if the Thunder can just correct some of their own unforced errors and hit a few more shots, they could very well come back and win the series.
There were some good signs in Game 4 for the Thunder too. For the first time in the series, the Thunder did not get off to a bad start. They went up 33-16 in the first quarter and played with great intensity from the start.
Russell Westbrook finally had an efficient shooting night as he scored 43 points on 20-for-32 shooting.
Kevin Durant didn’t get in foul trouble like he did in Games 2 and 3 partly because he started out matched up with Mario Chalmers on defense. The Thunder shouldn’t have to worry about him sitting because of fouls the rest of the series.
James Harden, who is the key to this team becoming great, is only averaging 10.8 points per game in the series and shooting 35 percent from the floor. He has still yet to find any rhythm at all on offense and if he finally can, it could really turn the tide in the series.
The Thunder came back from 0-2 to beat the Spurs
The Thunder already know what it feels like to be down by two games in a series and to rally back and win. They beat the best team in the NBA four straight times in the Western Conference Finals.
Their series with the Spurs looked even more unlikely for them to win after Game 2 in San Antonio. The Thunder have at least been in every game with the Heat.
Part of the Thunder coming back against the Spurs was that they learned on the fly how to beat them. They can do the same against Miami and if they do learn how to beat them in Game 5, they have enough talent to keep replicating that for the rest of the series.
The Thunder get Games 6 and 7 at home
The Thunder have lost just once at home so far in the playoffs in Game 2 of this series. They started the game off terrible falling behind 18-2 before roaring back and could have easily won if LeBron didn’t get away with hacking Durant at the end.
The Thunder have the best home court advantage in the league. There is no reason to believe they would lose two home games in a series even to the Heat.
If they can get back home it will feel like a new series for the Thunder.
The NBA doesn’t want this series to end
The Thunder and Heat meeting in the NBA Finals was a dream come true for the NBA. They want this series to go seven games just like everyone else in the world should.
If any of the conspiracy theories are true at all then the referees should tweak how they call this series just a little bit for Game 5 and we should see the Thunder getting to the line a little more often than they have been.
Miami’s recent advantage in getting to the line more has been crucial in them winning. If OKC can gain the upper hand in that department then there’s no reason to believe they won’t win Game 5.
We will get to see the Thunder playing with the most desperation possible in Game 5. They have risen to the challenge in every instance so far in these playoffs and it would be very fitting for them to do so again in Game 5.