By Charley Rosen, for NBA.com
Posted Jun 16 2012 7:55PM - Updated Jun 17 2012 1:26PM
There were several plots and sub-plots in Game 2, but there was one basic reason why Miami won: Their experience trumped Oklahoma City's inexperience.
WHAT THE HEAT DID RIGHT: Knowing the critical importance of the game, they started the proceedings with full-bore intensity. Indeed, there was no way they could play with the same passion for 48 minutes. But after several lapses in the fourth quarter, they were able to re-activate their red-hot mojo.
Their game plan was to relentlessly attack the hoop, which would then soften OKC's perimeter defense. In half-court slug-it-out possessions, Miami tallied 10 layups or dunks, and its drives hoopward also led to 10 points from the stripe. (In addition, it missed six layups.) That's a total of thirty points the Heat created by their determination (and ability) to get to the rim against OKC's dug-in defense.
This point is underlined by LeBron James taking only five jumpers from 15 feet and beyond (and making one) as opposed to the nine equivalent jays he launched in Game 1.
To keep the Thunder's defense stretched, the Heat also scored 18 points on 3-pointers.
So, aside from mid- and short-range jumpers, fastbreak and early offense scores, as well as the additional 12 free throws, 48 percent of Miami's total points were generated by its aggressive assaults on the rim in slow-down half-court sequences.
Their interior defense was incredible in the first quarter.
Both LBJ and Dwyane Wade came up bigger than big in the endgame.
Finding himself frequently unattended at the perimeter, Shane Battier dropped five treys and a driving flip for 17 killer points.
On several defensive stands, Battier's successful deny-defense on Kevin Durant destroyed OKC's timing and resulted in hurried shots by the Thunder's lesser players.
Miami's transition defense was much improved.
As in Game 1, a come-from-behind steal (this one by Mario Chalmers on a careless Russell Westbrook) marked a significant late-game turn-around.
Chris Bosh had a tremendous impact, shooting 6-for-13 for 15 points, but more importantly hauling down 15 rebounds (including eight of his teammates' misses) and swatting a pair of erstwhile OKC layups. Not to mention the sturdy screens he set.
Bosh, along with timely double-downs, negated Kendrick Perkins' considerable size and strength advantages in the low-post.
WHAT THE HEAT DID WRONG: There was minimal ball- or player-movement when LeBron had the ball on a string in iso situations. This was especially true in the fourth quarter while the Thunder were making their run.
Their mid- and late-game blahs were exacerbated by the lack of production from their subs. In 36 total minutes, Mike Miller, James Jones, Norris Cole, and Udonis Haslem contributed only eight points and zero assists while committing three turnovers.
When OKC began to attack the basket from the baseline instead of from the top, Miami's defensive rotations were flummoxed.
While Erik Spoelstra's game preparation was superior, Scott Brook's half-time adjustments were best.
WHAT THE HEAT NEED TO DO: Get more scoring off the bench so as to maintain the pants-on-fire intensity for the duration.
Bosh was dynamic when he assumed the proper position in the pivot. But he needs more than the three touches he received down there in Game 2.
Less spectating on offense.
More frequent doubling of Durant, Westbrook, and James Harden -- along with timely baseline rotations to protect the paint. Which perimeter play to leave open? Thabo Sefolosha.
Remedy the unforgivable sin of failing to tag Durant in early offense sequences.
WHAT THE THUNDER DID RIGHT: Successfully changed their angles of attack in the second half.
Hit most of their clutch shots in the endgame.
Never gave up.
Got energetic layup-denying defense from Serge Ibaka, who also hit his first jumper of the series.
Ran several successful screen-rolls involving Durant and Westbrook.
Demonstrated, that given sufficient space, Durant can easily take Battier off the dribble.
Harden returned to form. In particular, his left-to-right crossover is unstoppable.
When Durant received the ball after curling around a weakside screen, he drilled an open jumper. Why was this play only run once?
WHAT THE THUNDER DID WRONG: Were not ready to play. The same situation they exhibited in Game 1. But this time they were unable to catch up.
Played virtually no interior defense in the opening quarter.
Neither Ibaka nor Perkins were factors on offense. After going to Perkins in the low-post twice to open the game, he only got one more chance on the left box. This was totally understandable, since he was tentative with the ball down there and committed a pair of turnovers when doubled.
Once again, the defense overreacted on ball-penetration and left Battier all by his lonesome on the bonus side of the arc.
Made too many egregiously foolish passes.
Failed to run all-out in defensive transitions.
Early on, settled too easily for outside shots. The Thunder launched 26 3-balls to the Heat's 14.
Except for screen-rolls, showed insufficient movement in half-court possessions.
For sure, Sefolosha and Nick Collison primarily earn their keep playing defense. Even so, OKC got insufficient offense from them, and also from Derek Fisher. In 76 total minutes, this Little Three combined for a mere five points and three assists.
Yes, Durant was clearly fouled by LBJ while missing his last-ditch shot that would hopefully tie the game. But the Thunder must understand that precious few refs (the notable exception being Joey Crawford) have the guts to make that call at that time.
WHAT THE THUNDER NEED TO DO: Play with a sense of urgency from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
Relentlessly attack the rim and look for kick-out passes when the defense collapses.
Run Durant off more weakside screens.
Open up the side when Battier is over-playing KD on the wing to facilitate back-door cuts..
Avoid being intimidated by the raucous Miami fans, taking the clue from the Heat, who were totally unaffected by the near-hysterical OKC faithful.
Be more patient and, at the same time, more active off-the-ball on offense.
Take better care of the ball.
Get Ibaka more touches in the low-post.
When Perkins is opposed by Bosh in the pivot, he has to make much quicker moves to avoid getting jammed up by double-teams.
Give LBJ even more of a cushion then ever before, then double him early when he's on the move.
Box out Bosh. If his defender has to help on ball-penetration, then a secondary rotator must arrive to put a body on Bosh.
NEVER EVER break defensive contact with Battier.
The start of Game 2 showed that OKC's learning curve still has a long way to climb. Conversely, the manner in which Miami started and finished the game demonstrated the value of experience.
It should be noted, however, that every game in a championship series in unique unto itself. And that the winner of the last game played looks as though it can never lose. And vice versa.
After the shoddy job done by the three blind mice in Game 2, an investigation should be launched by the Department of Justice if Joey Crawford doesn't bring his whistle and his cute little shuffle-hop to Game 3.
Charley Rosen is a former pro basketball player and coach and author of 16 books on basketball.
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