It was a story of two halves for the Thunder on the second night of backup. After keeping the heat to just 45 points in the first half, Miami exploded in the second to not only eliminate its deficit but take the lead.
The final result shows a 14-point difference between the Thunder and the Heat, but the game moved in favor of the Thunder for the better part of three quarters.
OKC’s defense in the first half kept Miami to just 45 points going into a transition that marked the fourth in seven games where the Thunder have held their opponent to less than 50 points in the first half . The Thunder were able to keep Jimmy Butler relatively quiet in the first half with just six points on a 1-of-6 shooting. Bam Adebayo caught a lot of the offensive as he recorded 12 points in the first half when the teammates found him at the edge for easy closures and looking at the basket. The Miami Thunder defense kept just 35-percent shooting from the field and 28-percent shooting from depth.
“It was just our effort,” Thunder forward Darius Bazley said. “There won’t be many perfect defense positions; they are not going to be executed as we want them to be all the time but I think our effort made up for it. I don’t think we gave them a lot of clean three points in the first half. ”
Thunder’s offense, on the other hand, created the look it wanted despite the Heat working to securely defend the series. It featured a display of self-contained basketball where players moved and cut without the ball as the teammates found them. He also delivered ultra-quiet plays from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that didn’t let Miami’s clogging tactics stop his early failure as he went into the half with 18 points on a 6-of-7 shooting.
“I thought we were good in the first half and I thought we could actually have taken a bigger lead than we were getting,” Daigneault said. “I thought we made a big impact on him in that half.”
“Just take what the defense gives us,” said Gilgeous-Alexander who finished with 27 points high in the game. “If they change from one to five, it’s likely that their big boys will eventually turn on our guards and drive those gaps, make the next play and play. together.
After a quiet first half, Miami ‘s offense in the third quarter rose to a 34 – point tune to take the lead from the first frame. After posting just nine points in the entire first half, Jimmy Butler recorded nine in the third frame by himself to jump start Miami’s efforts with the help of five free throws. Miami’s lead suddenly jumped up to seven in the third quarter.
After a big bucket by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to finish the third quarter, the Thunder found only two going into the final frame. However, Miami opened a big 15-0 run that strengthened its lead to double numbers. A series of missed turns and shots kept an eye on the edge keeping the Thunder scoreless for the first six minutes of the quarter while Miami found his offensive rhythm behind Duncan Robinson who stepped in there. the 13 points in the fourth quarter behind three of his six who made 3-points on the night.
“I just think we run out of gas a bit in the second half,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “They are definitely a great team. They play top notch for a full game, and against a team like that, it’s going to take 48 minutes of good basketball on each end of the floor and do the right thing to get a W, and not i don’t think we did enough of it tonight. ”
It was the bucket by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at the end of the third quarter that deserved his own attention. All eyes were on a rising star of the Thunder standing at the top of the key with the clock ticking. In a dream, SGA attacked its first defender in Stress. Once in the series, Gilgeous-Alexander met two Miami defenders in midfield who were intent on finishing the guard’s ability at the edge – useless.
Shai rose but took the ball under the outstretched arms of Andre Iguodala and Bam Adebayo with still plenty of time to finish the play off the glass.
“I just wanted to do a play,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “I did 3 on the same one and I knew it would push a little. So I created a little space, waiting and trying to get into the series. Then I tried to go in and someone stopped me. ”
It’s just SGA, what can you say? pic.twitter.com/hdEF7VJsqN
– OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 23, 2021
After a consistent display of offense for the Thunder through three quarters, OKC was limited to just 17 points in the fourth frame. Miami’s defense filled the paint and turned one through five that started causing problems for the Thunder in the final frame as the once-falling scenes began to dry out the competition. The missed blows were exacerbated by Miami’s continued hot fire
“In the fourth quarter, we got a good look to start, but we didn’t get a combination of getting enough offense or getting enough defense to hang in the game there, ”Said Daigneault.
“Perhaps the biggest lesson tonight is just the full 48-minute game. Apply the same energy at each end of the floor for a full 48. ”
“Good lesson for us. We definitely like to compete against the team like them because we can learn a lot about ourselves and they were just out on us tonight. ”
– FOX Sports Oklahoma (@FOXSportsOK) February 23, 2021
The Thunder will have a day to rest before getting back into action Wednesday against the Spurs. Then Thunder’s difficult five-game range in seven days will weave in with Friday and Saturday backups where the Thunder will host Atlanta and Denver.
– FOX Sports Oklahoma (@FOXSportsOK) February 23, 2021