Miami forward Shane Battier ranks as one of the league's top defenders.
Asked if there is an art to defending without fouling, Battier said: “Yes. It's a fine line, and every game is different because you have to understand how the refs are calling the game. You have to understand the players you're playing against. These guys (the Thunder) are foul-drawers, so you really have to stay disciplined and concentrate every possession, because if you have a mental lapse, they're going to shoot free throws. That's how this team really, really beats you. You have to have amazing discipline mentally.
“You let them shoot 30 free throws, it's a losing equation.”
The Thunder actually has been hurt by its free-throw shooting.
During the regular season, OKC led the league in free-throw percentage (.806), free throws made (21.4 per game) and was second in attempts (26.4). So far in the Finals, however, the Thunder is shooting just 73.6 percent from the line (39 for 53).
The Thunder and Heat are two of the most athletic teams in the league, but OKC ranked dead last in assists and turnovers during the regular season, while Miami tied for 20th and 21st, respectively.
Rankings for both teams have improved considerably in the postseason, which helps explain their journeys to the NBA Finals.
Battier credits his teammates' passing for his 17.0-point scoring and 70.6-percent shooting.
“I'm getting good looks,” Battier said. “We're not the best passing team in the history of basketball, and I've let people know that on my team, so I've gotten some good passes. I've told those guys, ‘If you give me good passes, I'm going to make some shots.' We're getting some very good passes in this series.”
DURANT, DOUGLASS FEATURED SUNDAY ON MTV2
The second and final part of MTV's original sports documentary “Nothing But Net,” featuring Thunder star Kevin Durant with the Douglass boys basketball team, will air at noon Sunday on MTV2.
Durant spent some time with the Trojans during their season, including serving as a referee for a scrimmage and bowling with the team at RedPin Bowling Lounge in Bricktown.
Douglass players also received all-black Nike Kevin Durant shoes as well.
The Trojans won their third consecutive Class 4A state title.
Miami center Chris Bosh, who is 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, is hardly known as a banger. However, he has made his presence known in the first two games of the series, averaging 13.0 points and 10.0 rebounds.
“CB is so huge for us because he gives us the dimension we just don't have,” Battier said. “We just don't have size down low, a guy who can just wreak havoc in the middle. We survived basically two series without him (out with an abdomen injury). There's no way we can beat this team (OKC) without CB.”
TICKET PRICES CREEPING UP
With Miami's win in Game 2, ticket prices for the three games in Miami beginning Sunday are moving upward.
The average price for a ticket to Sunday's Game 3 is $616, an $11 increase from Thursday, according to numbers provided by StubHub.com.
A Game 4 ticket is averaging $566 and Game 5 is averaging $707.
The low price for a Game 3 ticket was $170, compared to $265 for Thursday's Game 5.
DEFENSE DOESN'T SUPPORT TRANSITION
The Thunder didn't have a fast break point until well into the third quarter in Game 2.
The problems in getting out in transition started on the defensive side.
“The defense is not where it needs to be,” Thabo Sefolosha said. “I feel like for a big part of the game, we're just trading baskets, and our brand of basketball is playing defense first and we've got to get back to that.
“If we've got to take the ball out of the net every time, we can't really run that way, so it starts with the defense.”
The Heat defense played a part, but only to a point, James Harden said.
“They did a pretty good job, but that goes with us not making shots, and we couldn't get defensive stops,” he said.
This is Battier's first Finals, but he has heard plenty from other players.
“Any road win in the playoffs is significant,” Battier said. “I'm excited to get a win. Like (Phoenix point guard) Steve Nash said, ‘When you lose a game in the playoffs, you just feel like you're never going to win another game, and when you win a game, you feel like you can do anything.' The truth lies somewhere in between.”
Battier on why he is so confident shooting: “It's the Finals. I'm not saving any shots for summer league. I'm too old for that anymore.”