OKC Thunder: To beat the Miami Heat, you've got to out-tough them

The Miami Heat wins with suffocating defense and is uniquely built to combat Oklahoma City. To win, the Thunder must beat them at their own game.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 24, 2012

Truth is, for all the, uh, heat the Thunder's half-court offense receives, it's better than Miami's half-court offense. Crazy as it sounds, Durant, Westbrook and Harden are better one-on-one offensive players than Miami's trio.

But Miami's defense clamps down on even quality offenses and produces easy baskets at the other end. The Thunder must limit those easy baskets.

The Thunder loves to go all greyhound. Run up and down the court and get foes into a track meet. But you can't do that against Miami.

The Thunder needs to turn this game — or a potential series with Miami — into a grinder. The best way to beat Miami, maybe the only way to beat Miami, is to out-tough the Heat.

“You have to be willing to sacrifice your individual game, mostly on the defensive end,” Fisher said.

Check out the 2011 NBA Finals, when the Mavericks upset the Heat four games to two. Not until Game 5 did a team score more than 95 points. Games 3 and 4 were won 88-86 (by Miami) and 86-83 (by Dallas).

“It's going to come down to the pick'n roll when Dwyane Wade has the ball, LeBron James has the basketball,” Fisher said. “The little things. Who's getting the loose balls? Who's boxing outs? Who's making free throws?”

For all the glitz of the Heatles and Showtime South Beach, Miami is more pit bull than show horse.

More back alley than spotlighted stage.

“They have toughness,” Brooks said. “They have a lot of intangibles. That helps you win big games.”

Beat the Heat? You've got to out-tough the Heat. Not easy. Not easy at all.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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