Though a rivalry is possibly brewing between the Thunder and Heat, players and coaches from both sides reserve an appropriate level of respect for each other.
“It's two competitive organizations that had a great Finals last year,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra. “The outcome was not indicative of how close that series actually was.”
Spoelstra went on to compliment Oklahoma City for its continued development.
“That's a hungry group,” he said. “That's a motivated group. That's a talented group. There's a reason why that young core, and it's a tough thing to do in this league, has gotten better each year for four straight years.”
Prior to Tuesday's game, LeBron James had not been called for a foul in six straight games. He had played 224 minutes over that six-game span.
Against the Thunder, though, Spoelstra said James “probably should have four fouls” due to playing aggressively and making impactful plays with the ball on offense and against the ballhandler on defense.
James finished with three fouls in 42 minutes against the Thunder.
He was whistled for his first foul with 7:57 remaining in the opening quarter when he attempted to block a dunk by Serge Ibaka.
Coaches for both the Thunder and Heat wore green ribbons to remember the victims of the Newtown, Conn. Tragedy. … Notable faces in the crowd included Gladys Knight, Lil Wayne, Gabrielle Union, Ahmad Rashad and Adam Silver. … Five technical fouls were issued in Tuesday's game.