Sometimes in a long battle between two great teams, you’ll get one strange outlying game that has nothing to do with the rest of the series.Last night’s Heat-Thunder game was one of those.
Here are all the random, anomalous things that happened in Game 3:
Kevin Durant got in foul trouble right as he was taking over. KD had eight points in the first five minutes of the second half. But right after he caught fire with two-straight buckets, he picked up his fourth foul and had to go to the bench. OKC had a six-point lead when he came out, and they were down 4 when he came back in. Who knows what would have happened if a red-hot Durant played the entire third-quarter.
The fourth quarter was a sloppy turnover fest. The teams combined for 14 turnovers in the fourth quarter of Game 3. In games 1 and 2, they combined for 43 total (an average of 5.4 TOs per quarter). In addition, both teams went away from their game plans — the Heat tried to burn out the clock once they got a lead with three minutes left, and the Thunder went into full isolation mode. It’s hard to draw out any long-term implications when the game loses its flow so dramatically down the stretch.
James Harden played the worst game of his life. He had the same amount of turnovers (2) as field goals, and he committed a bone-headed foul on LeBron James with 16 seconds left. It’s tempting to say that he was overwhelmed by the stage, but he played brilliantly in Game 2, so it was probably just an off-night for him.
The Heat made almost all their free throws, and the Thunder made none. This is just weird and unsustainable. The Heat — one of the worst free-throw shooting teams in the playoffs — shot 88% from the line last night. The Thunder — one of the best free-throw shooting teams in the playoffs — shot 62%.
We saw lineups that we’ve never seen before, and won’t see again. Mike Miller saw extended minutes. Daequan Cook and James Jones made brief cameos. Derek Fisher played deep into the forth quarter. Serge Ibaka got benched after he fouled Shane Battier on a 3-pointer in the third quarter. Simply put, when the title is on the line later in this series, the strange lineups we saw last night will not be on the floor.
Dwyane Wade single-handedly took the Heat out of their offensive rhythm, but it didn’t matter. Wade had a great stat line (25-7-7). But he repeatedly tried to force the issue and took some downright terrible mid-range jumpers (he was 0-5 on shots outside the paint). He made up for it by getting to the free throw line, but the Heat won’t survive another game where Wade tries to completely take over. He’s just not the Wade of old right now.
Miami made one 2-pointer outside of the paint. ONE. That’s just absurd.
That’s not to say there’s nothing to take away from last night’s game.
- Miami/LeBron’s commitment to attacking the basket is a good sign going forward
- Kevin Durant’s occasional inability to get open off the ball when he’s being guarded by LeBron is something to look out for
- Chris Bosh’s offensive rebounding has been unreal this series (he had 4 last night)
But by in large, last night was just a weird game that you shouldn’t read too much into.
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