What I’m taking away most from this game is belief in OKC’s ability to ‘peak’ at the right moments.
It’s simple really.
The announcers said that KD scored 22 of his 36 points in the 2nd half (incidentally I can’t find a way to get nba.com box scores to show scoring by quarters. Does anyone have an idea?).
That means he scored a mere 14 in the first half but more importantly, he turns the juice on when it counts most – the 3rd and final quarter.
This isn’t exactly a formula imho, in fact Coach Brooks was caught on the mic telling him to demand the ball more in the 3rd. But whatever the reason might be, it’s still effective. While James, Wade and, in this game, Battier lorded it over the early part of the game, KD took over at the latter part of the game. The total effect is that it opened up opportunities for other players as well, allowing Westbrook to do his thing on the pick and roll, often choosing to take open Js allowed him by KD cutting to the basket.
I’m going bullet point mode now with a few more thoughts:
Battier – I’m happy to see him break out a big game (17 pts. on 4-6 from 3s). Its shocking to see him play so gimpy when he tries to drive to the basket compared to the Houston days when he dominated and changed the game with his D. Now, he’s never looked so old, so to see him come up big is gratifying considering he’s one of my top fave players of all time.
Westbrook – The guy’s a punk and has not yet learned to control his emotion. At one point after a very obvious slap on the ball, causing a TF on both him and Battier, he was screaming at the crowd but mostly looking like an idiot. It reminded me of John Starks’ silly fouls whenever he gets too emotional back in the day. I was hoping KD would do a Pat Ewing and push him around to try and get him under control.
Brooks – If this technique of starting KD slow to save him for the end game really is strategy and not a fluke, then hats off to Coach Brooks. It makes sense considering this is what happened to the OKC – SAN series as well. OKC starts slow and was even 18 behind at the last game, but they find a way to storm back, beating down on their opponents until lo and behold they’re ahead, and they hold on to win. I really hope it’s strategy because it just makes more sense and I admit it’s more romantic that way.
Wade – What is wrong with this guy, really. I hope it’s something physical, because then it can be explained. But if its mental, please stay on the bench instead. Losing concentration, allowing turnovers, even hanging your head when a loss is imminent are not the marks of a Pat Riley team. I just don’t get this guy, brilliant in one game then the goat in another. It’s just hard to read him.
Game 2 – I’m looking to see how MIA adjusts, and how they do it seems simple. They need to balance their efforts and more importantly, come up big in the final quarter. If they have to preserve their strength and allow OKC a chance at the lead that’s ok. The important thing is they be fresh and ready with 12 minutes left in the game.
Man to man MIA should have the advantage. All they need to do is time when they should push their advantage properly.