James Nosek | Press Box Perspectives Editor/Columnist
If you watched the fourth quarter of last night’s game one you probably stumbled upon two completely different teams.
One team was a very confident and poised group of players that were led by a clutch leader. The other team was a dysfunctional, flustered group of superstars who looked more like some street ballers playing a pickup game at Rucker Park.
Can you guess which one was the Miami Heat?
Well, going into this series it was inevitable that the confident and poised group would be the Heat. Come on, this is their second title shot in two years and it is a team anchored by two of the best players in the league.
But, of course, that wasn’t the case.
To the Heat’s own demise, the Thunder chose to be that team and it worked—they won the game by 11 points.
It was fun to watch OKC’s Kevin Durant take over in the 4th quarter but it was even more fun to watch the Thunder, as a whole, play so fluidly together. He led the charge, and the team followed.
Quick ball movement kept the momentum going all quarter and that allowed Durant to find holes in the Heat’s (lousy) defense and Russell Westbrook to attack the basket—and get easy 15-foot jumpers. It also allowed the supporting cast to get involved. Nick Collison, who finished with 8 points, stepped up huge—as a finisher and as a spark for the crowd. In the final minutes of the game, Collison put the lid on the cup twice when he rocked the rim after Durant, who ended the final quarter with 17 points, simply made things happen.
This chemistry is what we have seen by the Thunder all year. The different personalities and playing styles of Durant and Westbrook play off each other perfectly—as kind of a Yin and Yang effect—and that allows the rest of the team to get involved.
It was fun to watch.
But then there was the Miami Heat. They weren’t as fun to watch.
Isolation, isolation, isolation, chuck a three pointer. That was the formula for the Heat’s fourth quarter. And look how it turned out. Sure, they missed a lot of good shots, which they will adjust going into game two, but in the scheme of things, they just couldn’t keep up with the energetic Thunder who played as a team.
Key word: team.