BROOKS STICKS WITH SAME LINEUP
An extra day of preparation for Game 3 gave media an extra day to try and read the psyche of Thunder coach Scott Brooks after a 100-96 loss in Game 2, including whether he should make changes to his starting lineup that had gone 13-4 in the playoffs heading into Game 3 on Sunday night at American Airlines Arena.
“It hasn't even crossed my mind to change the starting lineup,” Brooks said during his pre-game interview session.
The subject also was addressed after OKC's morning shootaround Sunday.
“There's always a chemistry thing that's important,” Brooks said. “You just can't say, ‘Just throw guys out on the floor and hope that it works.' It's important to have a good start and a good finish.
“Every fight is important. You can't just say we're going to knock the guy out in the final round, you have to punch him in the first round just as many times in the last round. We have to fight every possession and every round and that's what we have to do. I've never considered changing the starting lineup, we're pretty good.”
Brooks stuck with his usually starting lineup in a 91-85 loss in Game 3. The Thunder was outscored in the first quarter for the third straight game, this time 26-20.
TURNING UP BIG
The Heat might be “small,” but it's getting far too close to the basket. The Finals have become a layup drill for Miami, which scored 14 of its first 15 field goals in Game 3 from inside the paint.
In the first half, Miami scored 30 points in the paint and converted 15 of 28 (. 536) shots inside the paint, but was just 3 for 16 (. 188) outside it. OKC tightened up on defense and the Heat wound up with a 46-42 advantage in the paint.
“We've got to find a way to avoid bad stretches,” Thunder forward Nick Collison said. “We've got to avoid stretches where we don't get good shots. Defensively, we can't have breakdowns. We've got to try to make them shoot jump shots over a hand.”
Packing the paint and making the Heat shoot jump shots might simplify the Thunder's task — except when it comes to Shane Battier, who went 2 for 2 on Sunday and is now 11 for 15 (. 733) on 3-pointers in the series.
In the first quarter, referee Joey Crawford whistled Durant for an offensive foul on a jab step from 22-feet out against Dwyane Wade in the first quarter. During the next stoppage in play, Durant walked over to discuss the matter with Crawford but was intercepted by teammate Derek Fisher, who redirected Durant in the direction of the Thunder bench.
In the second quarter, referee James Capers missed a call underneath the basket in the second quarter and inadvertently pointed in Miami's direction. Brooks argued call and while Capers was in the process of correcting his own call, Crawford called a technical on Brooks.
Collison after the Game 3 loss: “Every game that you're in at the end and you lose, it feels like a missed opportunity. But Miami deserve credit, too. They played well. They made more plays and made less mistakes than we did. We've got to come back and be better next game.”