Playing Like They’ve (Already) Won

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James Nosek | Press Box Perspectives Editor/Columnist

Sometimes a compliment can be a bad thing. That turned out to be a bad omen for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ever since the Thunder won game one of the NBA Finals last Tuesday night, they have been on top of the world. They came back from 13 points down, outshined the Heat in the fourth quarter and won game one. They thought they won the series—and everyone else thought they won the series.

It’s like the grandma of every Thunder player spoiled their grandson a little too much. You know grandparents; they have a hard time exploiting the negatives of their grandchildren, especially after the Thunder’s game one win. They like saying how great they were, and compliment them on everything.

OKC came into game two with a huge amount of momentum, mostly due to the coverage they were receiving. I know it was a great come back and fourth quarter performance in game one, but the Thunder were expected to win, especially when they came into the first game with an 8-0 home record in the playoffs.

But the media over hyped the win. And what that did was give OKC the impression that they were going to sweep the rest of the series. It was a great high, but too high.

Instead of the Thunder playing with a sense of urgency, they let that attitude resonate in the Heat players.

Now, we did see the Thunder come back in game two, while showing a great deal of urgency, but the damage was too great. The Heat already gained a big enough lead, and the game one adjustments were in full swing.

This attitude of “cheering before the fat lady sings” is something that makes sense with this Thunder team. They are very young, and inexperienced in the playoffs. That immaturity showed in the first three quarters of game two, and even in the fourth quarter—remember, they didn’t end up winning.

I’m sure these guys love their grandparents more than anything but for game three, here’s a formula in how to handle them: hug and kiss them, as you should, but ignore whatever they say.

The Thunder can’t be impressed with winning game one. I sure as hell know the Heat players aren’t happy that they only have one win right now—they are dying for a ring.

Sometimes the heat of the moment can be too large. Hopefully for the Thunder, they’re not caught up in the Heat’s moment, because that could result in their grandmas saying, “it’s okay honey, you’ll get them next year.”


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