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Oklahoma City Thunder: What the Thunder learned from the Finals

OKC vs. MIAMI — For the first time since Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Oklahoma City Thunder faces the Miami Heat. The Christmas Day game is an opportunity for Kevin Durant and Co. to demonstrate what they learned from the experience.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 24, 2012
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photo - NBA BASKETBALL / REACTION: Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) reacts in front of Miami's Mario Chalmers (15) during Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena, Sunday, June 17, 2012.  Oklahoma CIty lost 91-85.  Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
NBA BASKETBALL / REACTION: Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) reacts in front of Miami's Mario Chalmers (15) during Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena, Sunday, June 17, 2012. Oklahoma CIty lost 91-85. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

When asked what he learned from the Finals, Westbrook talked most about making every possession count. He remembered how the Finals intensity was the highest he had ever experienced and how, as a result, it became ultra important to take care of the ball and search for quality shots on each trip.

Things the Thunder couldn't do consistently.

“They won four straight so there were a lot of possessions where we didn't do a good enough job,” Collison admitted. “Both sides of the ball, we didn't stop them enough so we have to get better at both ends of the floor.”

Collison continued, going on to further dissect the team's offense and defense and stressing how the time to shore up last season's shortcomings is now.

“We have to continue to build toward that time late in the year,” he said.

And be consistent with that effort, said Perkins

“With the talent that we have, we can score points,” Perkins said. “But I think we got to make sure we have a consistent effort and be consistent on the defensive end. I think our defense can overshadow a lot of things. That also develops a trust for everybody. If anybody knows they're about to get screened, they know I'm going to be there. If my man rolls to the basket, I know somebody's got him. So if you develop that trust it's almost like you don't even have to talk it out no more. You almost know that the guy's going to be there.”

There hasn't been a better chance to date for the Thunder to showcase in the regular season how it has grown from its postseason disappointment than this Christmas Day showdown.

“We learned a lot after making the Finals,” said Serge Ibaka. “We know how hard you have to work to be there. Now we know how to do it, and I think if we get there we'll do better.”

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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Thunder at Heat

When: 4:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Arena

TV: ABC (Cox 8/HD 705).

Radio: WWLS 98.1-FM, WWLS 640-AM

Three things to know

* This is the first of two games the Thunder and Heat will play this season.

* Miami defeated the Thunder 4-1 in the NBA Finals last year.

* The Thunder and Heat split last year's two-game regular season series, with each team winning on its home floor.

Projected starters

Thunder (21-5)

Pos.;Player;Ht.;Pts.;Reb.;Ast.

G;Russell Westbrook;6-3;21.4;4.9;8.8

G;Thabo Sefolosha;6-7;7.2;4.4;1.5

F;Kevin Durant;6-9;27.9;8.4;4.2

F;Serge Ibaka;6-10;14.2;8.2;0.3

C;Kendrick Perkins;6-10;4.8;5.1;1.5

Heat (18-6)

Pos.;Player;Ht.;Pts.;Reb.;Ast.

G;Mario Chalmers;6-2;6.5;2.4;3.6

G;Dwyane Wade;6-4;19.7;3.9;4.6

F;LeBron James;6-8;25.4;8.5;6.8

F;Chris Bosh;6-11;18.0;7.9;1.7

C;Udonis Haslem;6-8;4.1;5.0;0.5

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