If you haven’t heard about what occurred in Game 2 Wednesday night, I’ll just sum it up for you real quick: Houston battled and scrapped the whole game, but the Thunder seemed to open the game up early in the fourth quarter to a 15-point lead with 9:23 left in the game. But, midway through the fourth, the Rockets went on a 17-2 run and eventually took the lead. Ibaka’s midrange jumper, Sefolosha’s clutch three and two Kevin Durant free throws sealed the deal for the Thunder to win Game 2.
However, that being said, there is a whole lot to take out of what happened last night and what needs to change moving forward.
For one, Oklahoma City needs to find a way to find a solution to the other team “going small” issue. All props go to Rockets head coach Kevin McHale for scouting that, and figuring out that going small would frustrate the Thunder. Last year, in the NBA Finals the Heat really frustrated Oklahoma City with having Bosh at the five, and having Ibaka guard LeBron or Battier at times. Last night, McHale attempted to do the same exact thing. And to be honest, it worked. There were points in last night’s game in which Scott Brooks had Ibaka guarding Harden, which didn’t work out because Harden just blew by Ibaka every time and made someone help which usually led to a kick out for an open three or a foul. Harden finished the night with 36 points and attempted 20 free throws.
Not so much of an adjustment, but more of a key is the play from Durant and Westbrook. Yes, they did both score 29 points last night. Yes, Durant and Westbrook went a combined 20-51 last night. Yes, do the math, that’s 40 percent. Not too shabby, huh?
But if you look at the actual play from Durant and Westbrook, it kind of makes you ponder for a second. Westbrook left the game early in the first because of quick two fouls. And, Durant didn’t score in the fourth quarter until there was 2:56 to play. Not saying it’s not a good thing to get others involved, but, the Thunder got 17 of their 27 fourth quarter points from guys without a #0 or #35 on their back. Its more of a “being too unselfish” kind of thing to me. Late in a playoff game, the ball needs to be in Durant or Westbrook’s hands. That’s just the nature of the game.
Needless to say, it did work. Sefolosha and Ibaka came up BIG. The Thunder did win Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead, and yes, the M-V-P chants did come down when Durant was at the line with 11 seconds to go.
Houston played an excellent game without one of their better players in Lin (who is questionable for Game 3). You have to give them their credit. Game 3 will be played on Saturday night in Houston.