Miami Heat must find way to keep pace with OKC Thunder
Thunder outscored the Heat 24-4 in fast-break points, rallying from a double-digit deficit.
The thoroughbreds in place, everybody prepared for the race Tuesday night in Game 1 of The Finals.
And the preferences for the Heat and Thunder were clearly one in the same: run at every opportunity.
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Outrun — and outscored on the run, 24-4 in fast-break points — Miami must find a way to find a payoff in the pace, after falling 105-94 when Oklahoma City surged down the stretch.
“They beat us at their game and beat us in a game that's very similar to us when we're playing well,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
With the Thunder lacking aggression early, Miami had it going offensively, leading by double digits at various stages of the first half.
But some of that figured to be fool's gold, with Shane Battier ballin' like he was back at Duke and Mario Chalmers chiming in, too, the two of them combining for 23 of Miami's 54 first-half points.
They totaled just two points in the fourth quarter.
And with Dwyane Wade slow to fire and Chris Bosh managing just 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting, that left too much heavy lifting for LeBron James, especially with Kevin Durant winning Round 1 of their ballyhooed individual matchup and Russell Westbrook charging to the finish.
The fast-break points were as much about defense as offense, as is typically the case. Once the Thunder warmed to the defensive task, taking away the lane and crowding shooters on the perimeter, opportunities to run multiplied.
“They got out in transition and that's their bread and butter, especially here at home,” Battier said. “They run so well. For a while, we contained them. Second half, we made too many careless turnovers. Long rebounds and poor shots, we let them get going.”
The playoffs are a time of adjustments, with games frequently taking on identities of their own, so Tuesday night holds no carryover.