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Brooks coaching part of Thunder’s problems vs. Heat

Jun 18, 2012, 1:09 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder – Game Two Getty Images

Let’s be clear about this up front — Oklahoma City is not down 2-1 in the NBA finals because of Scott Brooks alone. First and foremost Miami has brought its best defensive focus and intensity for two games now, and when they do they can even slow the Thunder. Plus, Miami has that LeBron James guy and it turns out he’s pretty good.

But Brooks is part of the problem and a big part of the solution if the Thunder are going to come back in this series.

But with how he’s coached in the finals, he may regret shooting down a three-year, $11 million contract offer.

The most obvious mistake was sitting both Durant and Westbrook the final four minutes of the fourth quarter. Durant had picked up his fourth foul and Brooks sat him, as is tradition. (We can debate if that is a good tradition — you are sitting him now so he doesn’t get a fifth foul so you have to sit him, basically you’re punishing yourself now for what might happen.) Here’s an idea — if Durant has gotten in foul trouble the last two games covering LeBron James, don’t have him cover LeBron James.

At the time of that foul Westbrook made a couple bad plays and Brooks sat him, too.

Miami went on a 15-3 run and took the lead.

“I took (Durant) out because he had the foul trouble right there,” Brooks said after the game in a televised interview. “And Russell… Russell had a bad stretch for three or four possessions. I just took him out to kind of calm him down and put him right back in the game. I’ve done it before.”

With those two out the Thunder scored 7 points on their 11 possessions, and one of them was the lucky Derek Fisher four-point play. The offense died and the Heat were right back in the game.

The bigger issue for me goes back to the Thunder’s core lineup that plays Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins at the same time. It doesn’t work. It didn’t work at the start of the last two games because Ibaka wanted to be protecting the rim and not out at the three-point line chasing Shane Battier, and the result was two 17-point games for Battier and fast starts for the Heat.

In Game 3 Brooks didn’t change the lineup but he did get Ibaka out better on Battier to start the game — and the result was a layup line for the Heat in the paint. They got shots at the rim off cuts and penetration, the Thunder could not stop them.

Perkins and Ibaka were +11 together in Game 3 but Ibaka never saw the court in the fourth quarter and the issues with the two big man lineup remain.

Brooks has got to get his best matchups on the floor and think more outside of the box. If Durant is in foul trouble you have to keep offense on the floor with Westbrook. You need to get Ibaka in the paint where he is a feared shot blocker. It’s crazy to think this guy bested Gregg Popovich last round, but it can be easier to do that when you have the best pieces on the board to move around. Now that it’s a real chess match he has to step up his game.

  1. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 18, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Whenever PBT starts an artice telling you that Player/Coach/Ref X is not the entire problem, you can bet that the entire article will be about the reasons why Player/Coach/Ref X IS the entire problem.

    • edweird0 - Jun 18, 2012 at 1:36 PM

      Hahahaha truth.

  2. Louis Tumblin - Jun 18, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Brooks is a good coach,but he needs to make some adjustments to get OKC back in this.

    Durant should not guard Lebron period. Use Sefolasha or Harden
    Start Ibaka at center use Perkins to give him rest
    Put Westbrook on Wade
    Always have Durant or Westbrook on the court.

    Not sure this will help, but gives OKC a bettter shot at success.

    • teamobijuan - Jun 18, 2012 at 5:51 PM

      And tell Harden that just because he’s a fan favorite does not mean he’s the superstar. He is not to dribble dribble dribble and jack up a contested shot. Feed Durant the rock.

      It’s like every time he gets the ball he thinks it must be a sign from god that everyone wants him to shoot.

      • teamobijuan - Jun 18, 2012 at 5:56 PM

        In fact I’ll go one step further and say that everything negative people say about Westbrook’s game can be equally applied to Harden. Love the guy… but he needs to learn to pass.

      • quancao - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:42 PM

        He’s got to shoot. He’s a free agent next year!!! Not going to get the best contract for passing !!!

  3. klownboy - Jun 18, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Erik Spoelstra thinks Scott Brooks cannot coach…

  4. truthhurtstoo - Jun 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    Not Ready for Prime Time

  5. franchiseplaya - Jun 18, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    the tide seems to have turned on the return of bosh to the starting lineup/playing starter minutes and brooks unwillingness to adjust. perkins has looked slow in the early going of each game and it seems to set the team back. i won’t go as far as to say spolestra is outcoaching brooks, its more brooks is killing himself with poor in-game decisions while spoles takes a poor mans phil jackson approach and really makes no coaching decisions and lets the team sort of figure it out on their own. so in spoles case i guess sometimes its the things you don’t do rather than the things you do.

    • franchiseplaya - Jun 18, 2012 at 2:56 PM

      and if he can coach the team to a win i will learn how to properly spell spoElstra.

      • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 18, 2012 at 6:22 PM

        Yeah im sure coach Spo needs your approvel, dumbass! Lol

  6. The Prophet - Jun 18, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    You don’t even need to get to the X’s and O’s to see that Brooks’ coaching is an issue. The Thunder is clearly a more talented and superior team to the Heat, but this is three games in a row that the Thunder has come out ice cold and completely unprepared mentally for the NBA Finals. Of course all players have to motivate themselves, but the difference between a good coach and the bad coach is the coach that can get the most out of his team, and its only the Thunder’s pure talent that keeps them roaring back in the 3rd and 4th quarters, despite the “leadership and guidance” of Scotty Brooks.

    • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 18, 2012 at 6:29 PM

      It’s more like the Heat making dumb mistakes and sloppy ball handling than the Thunder being a superior talented team. What’s tomorrow nights argument going to be? The chef’s at the hotel gave them food poisoning?

    • quancao - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:45 PM

      Give him some time. This is his first trip here. He’ll get better. Or OKC owners will get another Coach. Should have accepted the 3 year contract after he won Game 1.

  7. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 18, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Can’t believe that we’re in a series where the Heat have the less talented players and the more experienced coach.

  8. truthhurtstoo - Jun 18, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    Clearly, the Heat are playing bigger than the Thunder. Few buy that they have less talent…LaBron makes up for a lot.

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Jun 18, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      Here’s why. If neither team has injury or foul outs, and it’s the Heat up by 10 with 3 minutes left, OKC sill has a relatively excellent chance of winning. If OKC’s up by 10 with 3 minutes left, it’s game over.

      • kinggw - Jun 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM

        I think what you are talking about speaks more to how a team is built and the style the team plays, not talent level. Teams like the Knicks are never really out of games because of their abundance of three point shooters, that doesnt make them more talented than the Bulls whose offense is more methodical. OKC and Miami are pretty evenly matched.

      • eddiecrash1976 - Jun 18, 2012 at 6:24 PM

        Yeah 1972 was a looooong time ago! Lol

  9. jadyn3 - Jun 18, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    I thought the reason the Heat are resented so much is that 3 of the biggest talents in the NBA “conspired” to play together…? How is it that they are the less talented team here?

    Lol…this is ridiculous. DWade, LBJ and Bosh are just as talented, if not more talented, than OKC’s “big 3”. And they are more experienced. The Heat are just not as deep as the Thunder. But they are not underdogs here.

    These are 2 good teams…arguably the best 2 teams in the league today. None of the 3 games so far have been easily won.

  10. jadyn3 - Jun 18, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    You have a point…but you are describing resiliency, not talent.

  11. mogogo1 - Jun 18, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Gotta love PBT’s consistency on issues. After a string of articles this playoffs about how Spoelstra can’t coach, they’ve finally decided that Brooks is the one who can’t coach. That’ll hold until OKC wins a game, at which time the “Spoelstra can’t coach” stories can be recirculated.

    It works easy for them because they just do “find and replace” with Spoelstra for Brooks, LeBron for Durant and Wade for Westbrook. (Just gotta be careful to avoid the final article reading “Kevin James.” Their emergency plan for that will be to call it a King of Queens reference.)

  12. newyorkfootballjets - Jun 18, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    The only use for perkins is a few hard fouls then get his garbage a$$ out . He does not belong on the court in this series, especially not in the fourth quarter

    • quancao - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:46 PM

      Agree with you about Perkins. That’s why Celtics got rid of him.

  13. scalfor3 - Jun 18, 2012 at 10:47 PM

    “The bigger issue for me goes back to the Thunder’s core lineup that plays Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins at the same time. It doesn’t work.”

    “Perkins and Ibaka were +11 together in Game 3”

    wait, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?????????

  14. borderline1988 - Jun 19, 2012 at 8:12 AM

    I used to think Perkins was the problem, but now I don’t.

    Fact is, the Thunder have no one who can guard Bosh. Ibaka is not disciplined enough to guard Bosh and Collison picks up way too many fouls. The Thunder have not faced a team with a quick, talented power forward/centre, and it’s causing them big problems. Bosh only had a few baskets in game 3, but he was killing them in the 1rst quarter, and the Thunder had to adjust, which just opened up lanes elsewhere.

    I’m not sure what Scott Brooks can do here…he just doesn’t have the personnel to guard Bosh. Maybe they can try pressuring Bosh more whenever he gets the ball? He’s an overrated passer, and is turnover prone when facing pressure right in his grill.

    I actually was impressed with the fact that Perkins hit some baskets in the 1rst half. He does happen to be the largest guy on the court, and can score the ball off offensive rebounds or when he gets positioning on the court.
    Maybe it’s time for Collison to start playing better basketball. We give him too much credit for his energy and rolls when picking for Harden. Tipping balls on the offensive end isn’t the entire game.

  15. quancao - Jun 19, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    The Coach that lost the last game is always the issue. if we listen to sportswriters we would not have enough coaches left to fire … or hire. brooks is only as good as his players and his players have some time to mature. Their comments in the press, everyone except for Durrant, that is, show that.

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