For all the talk about the athleticism of the two teams, especially with the young Thunder, OKC center Kendrick Perkins suggested Monday the Thunder might want to keep the tempo dialed back a bit against a Heat team that can get up and down the floor as well.
“I don't think we're trying to make it an athletic finals,” Perkins said. “I think we're trying to make it a half-court, physical series so obviously there might be some exciting dunks or exciting plays that's happening but at the end of the day, we're trying to make it a half-court series.”
BROOKS HAS WESTBROOK'S BACK
Thunder coach Scott Brooks stood up for Russell Westbrook on Monday, after being asked about Westbrook's struggles against the Heat the last two seasons.
Westbrook has averaged 20 points but has shot just 31 percent (25 of 80) from the floor against the Heat in four meetings between the teams in the last two seasons. He's totaled 23 assists and 15 rebounds in those games with the teams splitting the meetings.
“I look at things differently than numbers,” Brooks said after being asked about Westbrook's struggled against Miami. “We split the series this year 1-1. I thought Russell did a good job of controlling the tempo here, and we were in position to win there.”
HASLEM RESPECTS LONG
After Miami's Udonis Haslem finished at the podium on the Chesapeake Energy Arena floor Monday, Thunder color analyst Grant Long came by for a quick handshake, hugs and an exchange.
Haslem knows Long's history with the Heat. Long was a second-round draft pick for Miami in 1988, the Heat's first year in the league.
Long played for Miami for the first six-plus years of his 15-year career.
“I tell him I always remember what he did and who he played for, not thinking about what he does now,” Haslem said. “I'm a huge fan of what he's done for the Miami Heat and him laying the groundwork and foundation for guys like myself.
“Regardless of what he's doing now, I'm always going to be a fan and have the utmost respect for him.”
“It is a little different. I was on a team that was considered the bad guy. So this is kind of different. I'm trying to adjust to it a little bit. I actually like being the bad guy. Being the good guy is kind of strange.” — Perkins on being on a likable team.
Despite media occupying roughly 250 seats in Loud City, the official capacity at Chesapeake Energy Arena will remain 18,203 for the Finals, according to Thunder officials. ... Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez made a bet on the series. If the Thunder win, Gimenez will send Cornett stone crabs. If the Heat win, Cornett will ship some steaks to Gimenez. ... Miami will host a “White Hot Road Rally” at American Airlines Arena for the two games in Oklahoma City, charging fans $2 for admission. There are no plans for a similar viewing party for the Thunder when the team plays in Miami. The team encourages fans to host their own watch parties.