Miami continues dominance of OKC
FEB 15, 2013 12:07a ET
“Maybe too many nerves, or too excited, I don’t know man,” he said afterward — though he did know, honing right in on how Miami took a 32-17 lead after the first 12 minutes. “That was the game, the first quarter.”
The Thunder, who were swept out of the Finals by the Heat last summer and have dropped six straight to them, should know that same burn, should have learned from that same kind struggle, and should have come out fighting Thursday night the same way Miami did last season: With the kind of temerity only the battle-tested can rouse.Instead, the Thunder laid down.
“They jumped on us, and it seems like we were, well, we were playing uphill the entire game,” Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said.
No one understands the power of the mental interfering with the physical like the Heat and LeBron, so it was interesting to see Miami mentally dominate Oklahoma City. The Thunder looked deflated, they looked knocked on their heels — they looked defeated — from the very start of the game.
The fourth quarter? A nice effort. A reminder of how great Durant is, and how capable the Thunder are even against a team like the Heat.
But the Thunder have to be past effort, past pride, past moral victories, past spectacular fourth quarters that can’t mask the three before them. With James Harden now in Houston, it remains unclear if Oklahoma City has the tools to topple the Heat in a seven-game series.
The Thunder know that question looms, too, or else why play Durant for 47 minutes and 32 seconds and Russell Westbrook for almost as long? This was a must-win game, a game they desperately needed in order to show themselves something. And what they showed themselves was weakness.
“We have to always be sharp and never let our guard down,” LeBron said afterward.
He gets it. Greatness is urgency, it is confidence, and it having lost enough to put the fear aside and run on a hunger and drive that drowns it out. It’s time Oklahoma City understands that, too, or gets used to what is now a clear level of dominance LeBron James and his teammates have learned to lord over the best team in the Western Conference.
You can follow Bill Reiter on Twitter or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.