Stakes High for Thunder in Game 4 Tonight


MIAMI – James Harden didn’t hide his words.

“This is Game 7 for us,” he said. “We can’t go down 3-1. We can’t. We need to get a win (tonight) and tie it up, 2-2, and it’s the best of three with two games on our home court. We’ll take that.”

Game 4 of the NBA Finals tips off at 8 p.m. Central tonight, with considerably high stakes for both the Thunder and the Miami Heat.

A Thunder win evens the best-of-seven series at 2-2 and more important, guarantees a Game 6 will be played Sunday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena. A Heat win gives it a 3-1 advantage with a chance to end the series on its home court Thursday night.

As it has done all year, the Thunder’s entire focus is on this game tonight. It is not dwelling on the past two games, games in which the Thunder put itself in a position to win. “We honestly felt we had an opportunity to win both games,” guard Russell Westbrook said.

And it is not looking ahead, despite knowing at least two games remain in the series. The winning team is the first to win four games, an approach the Thunder has maintained throughout its playoff run.

“We know we were down 2-0 against San Antonio, and everybody thought the series was over,” Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “But I know our guys. They’re very competitive, they’re very resilient.”

Fast Break Points:

- Durant on how he plays: “Everything is personal to me whenever I step on that court, I always want to try to outplay whoever is guarding me or try to do my best on the defensive end on whoever I’m guarding. It’s not like a one-on-one type of thing. It’s a competitive nature I bring towards the team. We just want to be the best when we step on that floor.”

- “It’s about us and what we can do,” Durant said. “We just have to play our game... It’s another game, we just have to take it a possession at a time.”

- Durant said that as a leader he has to stay positive for his guys because they look to him and that hopefully tonight is a different outcome. Durant continued to say that every series and game is different but the team has been in this situation before, so they just have to go out and play their game and leave it all out on the floor.

- Durant, on holding the Heat to 19 percent shooting from outside the paint, said the team just tries to keep the Heat in front and make them shoot over a hand. Guys are going to make shots if they’re wide open so the Thunder has to make them shoot over a hand and hopefully they miss some.

- Durant said that all he can do is be himself. He may miss shots, make turnovers and miss defensive assignments but he just has to do what he does.

- “I believe our guys can make shots, set screens, make the extra pass and play fast," Brooks said. “That’s what we’ve done all year.”

- Brooks wants James Harden to play a little bit faster. He’s a terrific player, he had a tough shooting night but he expects him to bounce back tonight.

- When asked about Durant and Russell Westbrook being off the court at the same time, Brooks said the Thunder played 66 regular season games and it happened 66 times and that those two guys are off the court at the same time often. People that haven’t watched the Thunder play thought it was a big deal, but James Harden and the second unit played four or five minutes per half in 66 games and the Playoffs without Durant or Westbrook.