Photo: Getty Images/Ronald Martinez
The Oklahoma City Thunder find themselves down 2-1 to the Miami Heat for one big reason:OKC reverted to its old, turnover-prone self during the fourth quarter and gave up both Game 3 and a chance to steal back home court advantage.
It’s really that simple.
Despite making enormous strides during the regular season, the Thunder still led the league in turnovers at 16.4 per game (~4.1 per quarter).
They were able to quickly correct this for the playoffs, bringing down their turnover numbers to 10.6 per game through Game 2 of the NBA Finals. That’s roughly 2.6 turnovers per quarter.
Then we get to Game 3 Sunday where OKC may have only finished with 11 total turnovers, but 6 came during the fourth quarter.
Even worse, Miami turned those 6 turnovers into 8 points. The Heat only won the game by 6 points, 91-85.
Had OKC kept to its 2.6 turnover per quarter pace there’s a good chance those 8 points off turnovers for Miami would’ve been cut by at least half.
Bringing down those turnovers also might have given OKC the lead for a longer period of time during the fourth quarter (only led for about 20 seconds in the middle of the fourth).
Eliminate the late game turnover problems and the Thunder take advantage of an awful shooting night (38 per cent) and similar turnover issues (9 during fourth quarter) from the Heat and probably win what was a very weird game for both teams.
The difference in the first three games of this series have been mostly about game-to-game adjustments, i.e. OKC finally correcting its sluggish start problems in Game 3.
That means the Thunder will likely play much cleaner basketball from here on out, which doesn’t bode well for a Miami Heat team that needed a lot of foul calls to go their way in order to take the series lead.
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