Shortly after the Thunder toppled Miami in Game 1, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra zeroed in on exactly how the Thunder came back from a 13-point deficit to take a 1-0 lead in the NBA Finals.
“That game was decided by four or five plays,” Spoelstra said. “They made the four or five plays.”
And immediately after Oklahoma City surrendered home-court advantage in Game 2, Thunder coach Scott Brooks pinpointed the problem in his team's loss.
“Toughness lost the game,” Brooks said. “We didn't come out with the toughness that we need to come out with.”
Both coaches were absolutely correct.
A handful of plays, coupled with an inadequate dosage of determination, is what has defined the first two games of this series. The Thunder was on the wrong end of both in Game 2 and, as a result, suffered a 100-96 loss to the Heat at home.
Though a dreadful 18-2 deficit early on plagued the Thunder on Thursday, Oklahoma City still fought to make it a two-point game inside the final minute. And those four or five plays will haunt the Thunder in film sessions from now until tip-off for Sunday's Game 3 in Miami.
Here's a look at the handful of swing plays that cost the Thunder.
1. Chris Bosh offense rebound
The epitome of a hustle play. The most maligned member of the Heat's big three supplied one of the most significant plays of the night. It was an improbable offensive rebound. It came at the 10-minute mark of the fourth quarter, with the Thunder clawing back from an 80-69 deficit. Dwyane Wade missed a 19-foot jump shot over Russell Westbrook. The Thunder had four players — Derek Fisher, James Harden, Kevin Durant and Nick Collison — sitting in the lane staring at the ball as it bounced off the rim. Bosh, however, remained active, fighting off halfhearted rebound efforts by Collison, Harden and Durant to keep the ball alive with a tap out to himself. Bosh corralled the board and eventually got fouled out of a post-up to extend the Heat's lead from 11 to 13 with 9½ minutes remaining.
2. Battier bank shot
With 5:03 remaining, Shane Battier, who has torched the Thunder in these first two games, broke the Thunder's back yet again on what appeared to be a broken play. Battier caught a pass from Mario Chalmers at the top of the key with just 3.7 seconds remaining on the shot clock and launched a 3-pointer as Westbrook ran at him. The shot banked in with just two seconds remaining on the shot clock. It gave the Heat a 90-83 lead with 5:08 remaining.
3. Wade fadeaway
The second of three ridiculous shots the Heat made to hold off the Thunder, again with the shot clock winding down. Wade cut to the lane and received a pass from James. In one motion, Wade then hit a fadeaway jumper over Sefolosha with 2.3 seconds showing on the shot clock. The shot put the Heat ahead by seven at 94-87 with 2:58 remaining.
4. Westbrook turnover
Just when it looked like the Thunder was gaining momentum and mounting a charge that would be too much for the Heat to overcome, this blunder thwarted that rally. It started off so promising. The Heat was about ready to come apart. Miami looked discombobulated while missing two of its previous four shots, and the two field goals that the Heat did make came on its aforementioned improbable jumpers. As the Heat struggled to get this possession off to a quality start, chaos ensued. Finally, Bosh set a ball screen for James before diving toward the rim. As he did, James tried to thread the needle to him. But Durant came up with a deflection and corralled the ball for a turnover. The ball landed in Westbrook's hands, but as he raced up the court, he lost awareness of his surroundings. When he did, Heat guard Mario Chalmers chased him down, poked away the ball and registered a steal that gave the ball back to Miami. The Heat didn't score on the added possession, but the Thunder's giveaway allowed precious seconds to tick off the game clock.
5. LeBron goes glass
Westbrook had just atoned for his turnover with a putback layup off a missed reverse layup by Durant. The bucket cut the Heat's lead to 94-91 with 1:47 remaining. The Thunder was on the way to yet another comeback victory in this postseason. But James, who had dominated all game, delivered his most significant play of the night. Ironically, it was his only field goal of the fourth quarter. It came on an isolation against Thabo Sefolosha — and for the third time in the final five minutes, the shot clock was winding down. James, starting from the left wing, sized up Sefolosha before putting the ball on the floor and pulling up to sink a 15-foot bank shot with 3.1 seconds showing on the shot clock. It gave Miami a 96-91 lead.