Heat 121, Thunder 106
Nuggets from my notebook from Thursday's Game 5 loss at Miami.
- In hindsight, this feels like the inevitable outcome. It feels like the Heat were destined to be atop the podium at the end of this series, while the Thunder was bound to wait its turn at least one more time. That's just how things go in the NBA. The Heat had been here and had the painful memory to know how to not go out the same way it did a year ago. All throughout this series, again, looking back, the Thunder did just seem happy to be here.
- But this is exactly what the Thunder needed to go through. Some more pain. Some more heartbreak. Some more nurturing. And soon, it all will pay off. OKC's time will come. Chalk up this first Finals experience as growing pains. A necessary evil. It's not what anybody wants to hear. But it's a mandatory rite of passage.
- Next year might not even be the Thunder's year. Don't assume it will be. It takes extreme fortune just to get to the Finals, forget about winning it all. Furthermore, this Heat team will be every bit as hungry to do it again next year, at least you would think. And Miami will have even more experience as well as confidence. Nothing is guaranteed in this league.
- Kevin Durant did something at the end of his press conference that made me question if this experience stung the Thunder enough to fuel a potential title run next year. He smiled. It's possible Durant is just that nice of a guy. Possible he can be a killer on the court and the kindest guy ever off it. But after four straight losses, including a head-kicking in the series clincher, the last thing I expected to see out of Durant or anyone with the Thunder was a smile.
- Here was the last thing Durant said before smiling and walking away from the podium. "Thank you guys for everything you did this season, good or bad," Durant told the media. "We appreciate it."
- Where did this series go wrong? The list is a long one, and not one thing on it was more significant than the next.
- Slow starts.
- Mental lapses.
- James Harden failing to show up on offense.
- Durant being unable to close in Games 3 and 4.
- LeBron James.
- Poor defense.
- Questionable rotations.
- Durant: "I'm proud of the guys for how we fought all season. During the lockout we came together as a group and worked hard, and we will continue to work hard."
- Durant on the Heat: "Those guys are really good over there. I didn't want to admit it during the series, but now that it's over, those guys are really good."
- Great moment in the waning seconds when Durant, Harden and Russell Westbrook hugged each other and stood together leaning on each other at the end of the bench. It was a scene that screamed "we'll be back."
- Durant's got to learn to stop picking up cheap and silly fouls.
- Miami scored 29 points off 13 Thunder turnovers tonight.
- The Heat finished 14-for-26 from behind the 3-point line.
- Mike Miller was 7-for-8 from 3-point range. He had 23 points in 23 minutes. In other words, a dude with ailing back outscored everybody in a Thunder uniform not named Kevin Durant.
- LeBron earned his ring. He earned his Finals MVP. He earned his respect.
- Bron did anything he wanted in this series. Save a few meh fourth quarters, he was the most dominating player in this series. And that's saying a lot considering how good KD was. He looked like the playground bully against the Thunder all series.
- Two things I will never understand about this series is why Thunder coach Scott Brooks played Kendrick Perkins more than Nick Collison and why Derek Fisher got as many if not more minutes than Thabo Sefolosha, as well as played over Daequan Cook regardless of circumstance.
- A lot of people wonder why Brooks is so stubborn with his rotation and substitution patterns. My only answer, which I think is a pretty good one, is most successful coaches are.
- Having said that, it seems Brooks will have to bend more in the playoffs next year.
- I can't help but wonder what would have happened had the Thunder just tried to go small and outscore the Heat. I have no idea if it would have worked. But it couldn't have been much worse than what actually took place here. Of course, the Thunder wants to win with defense. OKC wants to be a defense-first franchise. That's all good. It's a proven path to success. But being this close, what would have happened if the Thunder scrapped that and scored and scored and scored some more?
- The Thunder gets back to OKC at about 2 p.m. Friday.
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