Skip to content

NBA finals Game 2: Thunder must break the slow start habit

Jun 15, 2012, 3:48 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder – Game Two Getty Images

Oklahoma City was even or ahead of Miami for 36 minutes of Game 2. Seriously. The second quarter of Game 2 was tied, the Thunder and Heat each scored 28. The Thunder won the third quarter by a point and then owned the fourth quarter 29-22.

Miami only won one quarter, the first one.

But that start — Miami raced out to an 18-2 lead, led by 17 at one point and won the quarter by a dozen 27-15 — is what decided Game 2, a 100-96 Heat win that evened the series.

For the second game in a row this series the Thunder dug themselves a hole from the start, and this this time it was too deep to climb out of. They had chances, they faced some bad calls late, but they lost this game in the first 8 minutes.

And to a man the Thunder owned up to that afterward. They know that Miami has too much talent for them to expect to come from behind every game.

They know the consequences of this trend continuing.

“That was the game. We can’t start off down 18 to 2,” Kevin Durant said.

“When you get down 17 too many things have to happen well for you and perfect for you,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

“We got off to a slow start, we can’t keep doing that,” James Harden said in a televised interview after the game. “It only can work sometimes where we can come back.”

Why is it happening?

“Good question, I don’t know,” Harden said after the game. “We’ve done a good job all postseason of having very good starts, especially at home, and these last couple games have been slow. But we’ll pick it up in Game 3.”

If you’re looking to assign blame for the start you’ll be pointing at Russell Westbook, who was 1-7 shooting and was not facilitating for teammates. Not that they were hitting shots either — as a team the Thunder shot 25 percent in the first quarter. But the problem was team-wide, not just Westbrook. The Thunder starting five has not been consistently impressive all post season.

The ball movement and off-the-ball player movement on the weak side seemed to disappear for the Thunder in Game 2. The Thunder’s defense was a step slow to start the game and couldn’t contain Dwyane Wade, who came out aggressive and started getting into the lane. Once Wade got going there was no stopping him.

There are some small adjustments Brooks and the Thunder can make — less Kendrick Perkins (who was awful at both ends of the floor) and more Serge Ibaka. They need to play better defense to help get stops, which allows them to get out and get some transition buckets early.

It’s really about energy. More than design it’s execution. It’s about knocking down shots — Westbrook just missed shots he usually hits. Kevin Durant was 1-for-3 in the first quarter. They all need to step up.

And they need to do it from the opening tip.

Latest Posts
  1. LeBron James dealing with back pain

    Sep 30, 2014, 12:59 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    LeBron could miss Cavaliers’ practice tonight

  2. Brian Shaw wants Ty Lawson to watch Peyton Manning practice, lead team

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Manning leads by detailed preparation and then an ability to read a defense, a good example for any point guard.

  3. Ricky Rubio with half-court alley-oop to Andrew Wiggins (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Timberwolves New Players Getty Images

    We could see a lot more of this during the season.

  4. Byron Scott expects Kobe Bryant to score 23-24 points per game

    Sep 30, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT

    Kobe Bryant, Tony Allen Kobe Bryant, Tony Allen

    Lakers might need Kobe’s scoring, but they shouldn’t count on that much from aging star

  5. Cleveland Cavaliers now huge draw, expensive ticket at home, on road

    Sep 29, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    Road tickets to see the Cavaliers are $131.33 higher per seat than the second most expensive team, the Lakers.

  6. Trey Burke, in wake of nude-photo scandal: ‘My judgments will be much better’

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:37 PM EDT

    Utah Jazz v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey disappointed in what he’s learned so far about photos

  7. James Harden admits he needs to be better on defense. It’s a start, I guess.

    Sep 29, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets Media Day Getty Images

    If James Harden doesn’t play focused defense this season it’s Kevin McHale that pays the price.

  8. Carmelo Anthony says he re-signed in New York because of ‘unfinished business’ with Knicks

    Sep 29, 2014, 5:44 PM EDT

    Carmelo Anthony Carmelo Anthony

    Anthony said it wouldn’t have felt right leaving after he forced his way to New York midway through the 2011 season.

  9. Erik Spoelstra nearly chose Grateful Dead tickets over chance to join Heat

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT

    Erik Spoelstra Erik Spoelstra

    Spoelstra applied only on a bet with his German teammates

  10. Report: Kevin Durant says he wants to play in 2016 Olympics (his free agent summer)

    Sep 29, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    KD has some words for those that questioned his motivation this summer, and they are not the words of Mr. Nice Guy.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. R. Rondo (3761)
  2. L. James (3739)
  3. K. Bryant (3262)
  4. E. Bledsoe (2605)
  5. R. Allen (2442)
  1. D. Wade (2397)
  2. D. Williams (2271)
  3. K. Leonard (2061)
  4. D. Rose (2042)
  5. M. Smart (1900)