Fast Start, Consistent Effort Keys Tonight for Thunder
What is behind the Thunder's slow starts?
"We just have to play harder to start the games," Thunder forward Kevin Durant said. "We have to play harder. We're doing it a little too late. We watched the film, first 10 minutes of the game, we're kind of relaxed. I don't know why, but we've just got to play harder. I think we will after watching that. It was tough to watch, go to the film and look at it and say, wow, did I really just do that? It falls back on me as a leader."
Game 1 of the series saw the Thunder erase a 13-point first-half deficit by outscoring the Heat 58-40 in the final two quarters en route to a 105-94 victory. Two nights later, the Thunder was outscored 27-15 in the first quarter, fell behind by as many as 17 points before rallying to pull within two in an eventual 100-96 defeat.
"We got off to a bad start. I mean, that's the obvious thing to everybody," Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said. "We have things that we could have done better. We missed some shots. We missed layups, we missed some pull-up shots. Defensively we didn't match up in transition. There's a lot of things that we could have done better and hopefully Game 3 we do better."
The Thunder arrived in Miami with the best-of-seven series tied 1-1 and confidence it can win on the road. In its march to the NBA Finals, the Thunder posted road victories in Dallas (twice), Los Angeles (one) and San Antonio (one).
"We have shown all year we can play well on the road," guard Thabo Sefolosha said. "We have three games here, but we're only concerned about Game 3."
The Thunder held is game-day shootaround at America Airlines Arena. Check back later today for a full report from Thunder Basketball Writer Nick Gallo and video reports from Thunder broadcasters Matt Pinto, Brian Davis, Grant Long and Kelly Crull.
In the meantime, below are some notes from shootaround, where Derek Fisher, Russell Westbrook and Head Coach Scott Brooks addressed the media.
Key words during today's media session were "toughness" and "seizing the moment". Fisher said that teams don't get to this point in the season without being both mentally and physically tough, and the Thunder just needs to concentrate on displaying that attitude for a full 48 minutes.
Both Brooks and Fisher discussed Westbrook's game, saying that the Thunder wouldn't be in the position that it is in now without his aggression and hard work. Brooks said that Westbrook never misses games or practices and is committed to growing as a player, which he and everyone on the Thunder roster will do in the years to come.
In the past 48 hours after Game 2, the Thunder coaching staff has been working to prepare its team better, particularly at the start of games. In addition, Brooks hopes to see his players hit the court with a sense of urgency on every possession, not only with hustle plays but also in terms of setting good screens, making crisp passes and being in the right position on defense.
Game time is 7 p.m. (Central) and will air live on ABC-TV and the Thunder Radio Network.