February 24, 2018
The Thunder Are Actually Shooting Themselves In The Foot
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
While many people want to blame the referees for such an uneven series by these two teams, I’ve been able to look through any possible effect they may be having and see some underlying issues. The first thought I want to lay on you, with respects to the title of this article, is that the Thunder forced 9 turnovers in the 4th quarter and still couldn’t steal this game.

Think about that for a second – you’re on the road, you’ve had control of this game (briefly) in the 3rd quarter, and you’ve harassed your opponent into some very bad turnovers. Unfortunately, you’ve only turned those 9 turnovers into 10 points – not terrible, but not good enough to beat a quality team in their home building.

Continued After The Breakdown

So much of the debate today has been with Russell Westbrook and whether he’s helping or hurting the team. The answer is much more complex than a simple yes or no. All of his defenders who want to protect him for fear that leashing him will cause him to lose his special magic have a point. And the detractors who want to point out his poor decisions in crucial moments certainly have a valid point, especially since the Thunder have lost these two games down the stretch.

Scott Brooks has been eviscerated for taking Westbrook out in the third quarter. Considering Kevin Durant was already on the bench in foul trouble, the Thunder had only James Harden as a serious threat on offense. But the 15-3 run by the Heat to close out the third had very little to do with the lineup. Two fouls on Heat three point shooters led to 6 points with no time going off the clock. And make no mistake – those fouls were legitimate, no matter how the Thunder players wanted to protest.

Game 4 looms as a must-win for the Thunder. Falling down 3-1 in this series could mean they won’t even return to Oklahoma City for a 6th game. Playing in front of the home crowd, the Heat have to be feeling pretty good about themselves. It’s kind of exciting to see Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra doing some good coaching. In the fourth quarter, the Heat adjusted by doubling Kevin Durant on his pindown screens, and it really worked, forcing him into a turnover and a miss. All the pressure is now firmly on the young Thunder players, and they’ve already demonstrated a lack of understanding of how to deal with it – from the players all the way up to the bench.


Coach Nick

Coach Nick is the founder of BballBreakdown, coached the Triangle Offense at the high school level, and counts Tex Winter and Pete Newell as mentors. For more of our conversation, follow him @BBALLBREAKDOWN.

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