MIAMI, Fla. — The Thunder's 91-85 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night was multi-faceted.
OKC now trails the series 2-1 for many reasons, including the following:
Horrific first quarters: The Thunder has yet to win the initial period and has now been outscored 82-57 in the series. OKC has led only once. It didn't happen until Sunday at American Airlines Arena when it led 4-2. It lasted for all of 36 seconds.
Points in the paint: In its two losses, the Thunder has been outscored in the paint, surrendering 48 points in Game 2 and 46 in Game 3. On Sunday, 14 of Miami's first 15 field goals came from inside the paint.
Sticky fingers on offense: The Thunder had 22 assists (in 40 field goals) in its Game 1 victory, but managed just 14 assists (in 34 field goals) in Game 2 and 11 assists (in 33 field goals) in Game 3. Lots of standing around, poor spacing and a lack of ball movement are to blame.
Poor rebounding: The Thunder owned a 43-35 advantage in its Game 1 victory and got outrebounded 40-36 in Game 2 and 45-38 in Game 3.
Sloppy play: After cutting its turnovers from 16.3 per game in the regular season to 11.4 in the postseason, OKC committed 14 turnovers Sunday, leading to 16 points for Miami. Nine of the Thunder's turnovers came in the second half and six in the final period.
OKC's most glaring shortcoming throughout the Finals, however, has come at the free-throw line — and it also has been multi-faceted:
The Thunder is missing far too many free throws: After leading the NBA the last two seasons at 82.3 percent and 80.6 percent, OKC is shooting just 70.1 percent (54 for 77) from the free-throw line in the Finals. Game 3 was the worst showing yet at 62.5 percent (15 for 24). OKC is getting its usual number of attempts at the line compared to the regular season (26.4), but it's nowhere close to its usual number of makes (21.3).
The Heat is sizzling at the line: Miami shot 88.6 percent (31 for 35) from the line in Game 3. The Heat shot 77.5 percent from the line during the regular season and averaged 24.2 attempts. In the Finals, Miami is shooting 85.9 percent (67 for 78) from the line overall.
Stupid fouls: Leading 65-56 late in the third quarter, the Thunder on consecutive Miami possessions fouled shooters on 3-point attempts. The Heat made all six free throws to start a 15-2 run and take a 71-67 lead early in the fourth quarter.
In Game 1, the Thunder made six more free throws and won 105-94.
In Game 2, Miami made three more free throws and won 100-96.
In Game 3, the Heat made 16 more free throws and won by six.
Thunder veteran Nick Collison acknowledged his team's overall struggles Sunday night, but also said the opponent had something to do with it.
“There are a lot of things that we could have done better,” Collison said. “We've made a lot of mistakes for sure, but Miami deserves credit. They've played well.”
The Heat deserves credit when it comes to points in the paint, rebounding, assists and turnovers, but that has nothing to do with Oklahoma City making free throws.
“We haven't shot well (at the line),” Collison said. “Hopefully, we'll relax and make the shots come next game. It's uncharacteristic for us, but it's been a little bit of trend so, it's a tough thing to correct. It's more about your mindset, shooting with confidence.”
Could it be the nerves of being in the Finals?
“Maybe. Each guy's different, too,” Collison said. “I don't know if it's contagious. … Each guy's got his own reasons for not making them, but hopefully we'll be more comfortable next time we go.”
Collison centered on the big picture, however.
“The last three games, we've kind of had stretches where we've been bad defensively,” Collison said. “We've had a lot of breakdowns. We can't have those long stretches, like half a quarter or a whole quarter. We'll watch the tape, find out what mistakes we made and try to be better and try to win the next one.”