Miami 104, Oklahoma City 98 is one of those gut-wrenching defeats that are impossible to come back from, and yes, the Thunder are done. This series is over, and that’s awful, because this series has been exciting. I’m not going to rant about how the refs are trying to get LeBron his first title – they were inconsistent and anticipatory with the whistle again in Game 4, and naturally, it hurt the young Thunder – because the game was tied at 94 with less than three minutes left before LeBron hit this memorable shot, moments after leaving the game with cramps:
Ultimately, the finger-pointing – assuming there is any, considering how large and lengthy the coronation of LeBron will be – might be directed at Scott Brooks. Kendrick Perkins, who played only 17 minutes, seems to think it should:
“I just don’t understand why we start out the first quarter the way we did, with the lineup that we had, and all of a sudden we change and adjust to what they had going on. So they won the last three quarters, that’s what happened.”
Perkins played 33 minutes in Game 3, and scored 10 points and took 12 rebounds. He wasn’t as effective early in Game 4 (mostly because Westbrook couldn’t miss). He sat late. Ditto Serge Ibaka (27 minutes). Nick Collison was effective early, but couldn’t get many minutes in the 2nd half. Brooks elected to go small.
Did Brooks err in keeping an ineffective James Harden on the court in the 4th quarter? Of course he did. Harden, his energy sapped from defending LeBron (poorly, it should be noted) some of the night, was an abomination. The talented 6th man who could be looking at a huge payday next summer, was 2-of-10 with four turnovers, a key missed layup late, and general worthlessness on offense down the stretch. His series struggles – 13-for-37 FGs; 4-of-14 on three pointers – are in his head, and he was doing the Thunder no good. But who can pin a series loss on a reserve struggling in three of four games?
Ultimately, Miami’s Big 3 has been a little better than Oklahoma City’s Big 3 (LeBron > Durant, Westbrook > Wade, Bosh > Harden), and the Heat’s role players have been vastly superior (Battier in Game 2, Chalmers in Game 4) and that’s why the series is over.