MIAMI – Despite a early 17-point lead and an epic 43-point, seven rebound effort from point guard Russell Westbrook, The Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves down 3-1 to the Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Oklahoma City, who would lose Game 4, 104-98, now find themselves in a real tropical depression, with no real way out and only themselves to blame.
While some may say that the NBA is “rigged” and that the officiating has been questionable at during the NBA Finals, Oklahoma City—not the Heat, nor David Stern or the officials—have put themselves on the brink of elimination.
History is also not on the side of the Thunder, as no team has ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.
Conspiracy theories aside, Oklahoma City—not Miami—was supposed to be the new kids on the NBA dynasty block, thanks to Kevin Durant, Westbrook and James Harden, the “Young Guns” were just going to cruise over LeBron James and the much-maligned and despised Miami Heat right?
The so-called “Young Guns” from Oklahoma City have either shot themselves in the foot at the wrong time, or fired blanks entirely.
Consider this, since the Finals began, Oklahoma City’s NBA-best 81.2 percent free-throw shooting percentage has dropped down to 70.1 percent.
The Thunder’s NBA regular season average of 101.0 points per game has dropped five points down to 96.0 percent and Oklahoma City’s rebounding average has also dropped one point from 39.8 percent to 38 percent.
The two most telling stats of why the Thunder are in a 3-1 hole is the drop in assists from 17.9 percent to 15 percent and OKC’s three-point percentage has dropped from 35.2 percent to 27.3 percent.
For a team that has the likes of Westbrook, Durant, Harden and five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher, that drop of nearly eight points from behind the arc is a bad sign.
Stats don’t lie, and whether or not you’re the most ardent Miami-LeBron James hater, numbers always tell the truth.
Here’s another stat:
With the exception of two quarters, Miami has outscored Oklahoma City, 389-384. The Heat have also won eight quarters compared to the Thunder’s six.
Even more amazing, is the fact that while Miami have outscored the Thunder by five points, the Heat are only averaging a little more than one point more–1.25–at 97.25 to OKC’s 96 in four games.
While the stats may say that this series should be tied 2-2, OKC has either missed quality shots, or gotten themselves into foul trouble at the most inopportune time.
One cannot blame the officials or David Stern for the Thunder’s inability to score, make free-throws and grab rebounds, and—grudgingly—give some well-deserved credit to a Heat team that is playing with defensive intensity and smothering tenacity down the stretch.
Perhaps it may be NBA Finals jitters for a young Thunder team making it’s NBA Finals debut, whatever excuse naysayers choose to come up with, the bottom line is that as much as many outside of South Beach hate to admit it, this Heat team is about to make the “Young Guns” a mere footnote in the King’s coronation as a NBA champion.
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