Thunder to 'Leave Everything on the Floor' Tonight
MIAMI -- The effort was there, but the ball didn’t bounce the right way for the Thunder in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
In Game 4 tonight, the Thunder is going to bring the same level of passion, intensity and fight throughout the night and give itself a chance to win a big one on the road against the Miami Heat. The defensive work that the Thunder did on Sunday night was remarkable, holding the Heat to 37.8 percent shooting, but it wasn’t quite enough to retake the series lead.
Tonight, Kevin Durant and his teammates hope to knot this organization’s first NBA Finals at 2-2.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to try to tie this thing up tonight,” Durant said. “I think we did some really good things last game, we just have to capitalize on it and cut down on the mistakes and we’ll see what happens tonight.”
After regrouping on Monday and getting a late afternoon practice session in, the Thunder took to the court at American Airlines Arena on Tuesday morning for shootaround with a focused, no-distractions demeanor. Head Coach Scott Brooks’ team feels that it let the last two games in this series slip just through its grasp, and wants to fully capitalize on its chance to force the series to go back to Oklahoma City. It starts with the way the Thunder’s defensive energy helps it create offensive opportunities.
“Just to play with the same effort that we played with last game,” Brooks said. “If we can do that, we put ourselves in a position to win and just do the little things on the offensive end that it’s going to take us to get baskets. We have to be able to convert in transition.”
Brooks expanded on what he wants to see from his defense-to-offense transition game, by saying that even though the Thunder can win in a more slowed-down structure, he wants to see his team push the tempo after a solid box out.
“I think the first part of our offense is the defensive rebound,” Brooks said. “That’s what we always focus on. We’re a defensive team and we get out in transition off of our defense. We get out in transition off of our steals and off of our blocks. We have to create those opportunities for us tonight. We want to play with more pace.”
By replicating the effort on the defensive end and converting those chances to get out and run or set up a free-flowing, ball-moving style of offense quicker, the Thunder gives itself a chance to get its offense going before the Heat sets up its defense. Miami came into the series as one of the best defensive teams in the league, so if the Thunder can exert its will and style onto the game, it can prevent some of the little things it didn’t do well in Games 2 and 3.
“Just cut down on the mistakes, just the small things like rebounding and getting loose balls,” Durant said. “Playing harder, we played hard last game. We just have to continue to bring that type of effort and we’ll be alright.”
Most of all, Brooks and his coaching staff want to see an impactful combination of attention to detail, energy and commitment to making the right play every time down court. As members of the team have said in recent weeks, sometimes in the Finals it’s about the will to win, the desire to get every loose ball and close out on every shooter. Tonight, regardless of the outcome, the Thunder hopes to be able to say that it did everything it possibly could to win the game.
“Our guys come into the game, we always have the philosophy to play the game as hard as you can and you expect to win,” Brooks said. “That’s what we do. We leave everything on the floor.”