MIAMI — Just a couple weeks ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder were down 2-0 to a San Antonio Spurs team that had won 20 games in a row and looked pretty dominant doing it. Everyone was starting to picture how the Spurs matched up with the East.
Four games later, the Thunder were in the NBA finals for the first time since moving to Oklahoma City.
“Our guys know, it’s fresh in our minds,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of that comeback. “It was just last series that we were down 0-2. I mean, we’re definitely down. Our back is against the wall, but it’s not over. We still have some fight in us. We’re just going to have to play tomorrow night with the urgency that you have to play with, that we’ve done.”
They have been close — Miami is up 3-1 in the NBA finals but all of the Heat’s victories have been by single digits. The total points scored through four games has the Heat up just +5. The Thunder have had their chances in every game, but Miami has executed better late. Miami has gotten contributions from guys like Mario Chalmers (25 points in Game 4) and Shane Battier.
The Thunder were a dejected team in the wake of Game 4, but by Wednesday afternoon they just sounded more frustrated at their blown chances. They know they don’t need much to get a win.
Just something like the real James Harden to show up. He had better in Game 5 and if he does the Thunder might well force a Game 6.
But don’t expect Brooks to change things up.
“I don’t think the game comes down to who plays and who doesn’t play. It’s how we play,” Brooks said. “I think the last couple of games they made a few plays that we did not make, and it always comes down to that.”
To a man the Thunder thought that if they can win Game 5 and get this series back to Oklahoma City, they stand a real chance.
What’s that going to take? Westbrook said toughness.
“We’ve just got to pay attention to the details,” Kevin Durant said. “We’ve got to do the smart things. We’ll be fine.”