Momentum management: D. Scotty Brooks did not respond well to the Heat's opening barrage. By the time Brooks called timeout with 6:36 left in the first half, Miami led 13-2 and the Thunder long had been out of sorts offensively. Contrast that with Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who three times called timeouts after Thunder runs of just 4-0 or 5-0.
Bench: A. James Harden returned to high productivity, with 21 points. He basically kept the Thunder in this game. And while Nick Collison didn't have numbers to speak of (three rebounds, no points), the Thunder outscored Miami by eight points during the 14 1/2 minutes Collison was on the court. Derek Fisher was ineffective, with only one basket, but OKC outscored Miami by 13 in Fisher's 24 minutes on the court. No Thunder started had a positive plus-minus.
Foul protection: C. Neither Kevin Durant nor Russell Westbrook protected himself from foul trouble. Durant bit on a Dwyane Wade pump fake with 3:40 left in the first quarter and picked up his second foul. He sat for the next six minutes. Then Durant got foul No. 5 with 10:31 left in the game, trying for a futile offensive rebound. Durant remained in the game and had to play a little soft. Westbrook's second foul came out of frustration, after a Thunder miss, again 80 feet from the Heat basket. With 36 seconds left in the first quarter, Westbrook had to go to the bench, where he sat for the next six-plus minutes.
Lineup adjustments: C. Brooks stuck with his big lineup too long. He did not insert Harden into the game until 5:13 remained in the first quarter, and Miami leading 16-2. Then Brooks stuck with the big lineup for almost half the third quarter, during which Miami extended its lead from 55-43 to 70-55. Finally, with 6:20 left in the third quarter, Brooks abandoned the big lineup for good. For the game, the big lineup was on the court for 9:23 and was outscored 37-23. And regardless of who else was on the court, Brooks waited too long to insert Harden, with Durant and Westbrook struggling from the outset. Harden scored 10 points in those final 5:13 of the first quarter.
Aggression: B. The Thunder kept attacking the basket, which is good when your offense is stuck in cement. But the energy that willed the Thunder to a Game 1 victory was missing. The telling play: the Heat's Chris Bosh outhustled three Boomers for an offensive rebound early in the fourth quarter, leading to a 54-second possession and two Bosh foul shots that put OKC in an 82-69 hole.
Fans: C. The blue-and-white mob was loud and proud, as usual. But with 53.8 seconds left and the Thunder down 98-91, chunks of fans headed for the exits. There's more to a good fan base than just yelling and standing. Showing a little faith is part of it, too, and it would have served the early exiters right if Durant's late shot had gone in and sent the game to overtime.
Foul shooting: C. For the second straight game, the Thunder was off from the line. In Game 1, OKC made its final nine to finish 20 of 27. In Game 2, 19 of 26. That's 73.1 percent, decent for most teams but down for the Thunder. Harden missed two straight after a third-quarter foul. Durant and Westbrook each twice went 1-for-2. That matters in a close game.
Luck: D. Forget the whistles, either way. The Thunder was on the wrong side of fortune. Shane Battier banked in a straightaway 3-pointer with the Heat up 87-83 with 5 1/2 minutes left. And replay overturned an out-of-bounds call, giving Miami the ball with 1:11 left and the Thunder down 96-91. Fifty seconds earlier, and the ball would have stayed with OKC.