In Game 7, the Spurs managed just 17 fourth-quarter points. They had just six points the first seven minutes of the quarter. No points in the final two minutes.
That's how championships are won. The Birdman played big-time in the post. Chris Bosh, who didn't even score in Game 7, also played tough in the interior. Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier and Dwyane Wade took turns hounding the Spurs. And of course, LeBron is a defensive freak, able to stop the penetration of Parker, who in the final two games made just nine of 35 shots.
The Thunder doesn't have a LeBron, not on defense at least, but it does have the same framework. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to provide offense. Defensive-minded starters in Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. Nick Collison off the bench to bang in the paint. The Thunder could use some perimeter defensive punch off the bench, and maybe it already has that in DeAndre Liggins, who deserves more minutes, as far as I'm concerned.
Sure, the Thunder has to find more offense, particularly if Kevin Martin is gone as it seems. But come playoff time, when the game slows and points are at a premium, the Thunder needs to be able to throw a two-minute shutout here, a three-minute shutout there.
OKC's defense already is tough. The NBA's fourth-best this regular season in points per possession, the most reliable stat. But it must be even better.
That's what Spoelstra's message was to his own team going into the final two fourth quarters of the season. And the Heat heard him.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
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