Miami Heat (12-6, 4-4 road) vs. OKC Thunder (12-3, 8-0 home)
Series tied 0-0
View from the enemy: Heat Index
Shall I take another three or four hundred words to describe this moment and how incredible and massively huge it is? Or do we all get it by now?
I’m pretty sure we all get it.
It’s time for basketball, time play the games. Time for matchups to get sorted, time for the spotlight to shine. The Thunder keep talking about playing hard, which hopefully, in the NBA Finals, they will. It’s more than that though. It’s about playing extremely hard, but playing exceptionally well. The margin for error against the Heat is slim, and OKC will need to be right.
There’s a question as to if Chris Bosh will be starting tonight and while that’s obviously important, the Thunder don’t seem to care.
“It’s a little bit of a difference,” Scott Brooks said at shootaround. “But it doesn’t matter. Serge [Ibaka] is going to guard either one [Bosh or Battier], whoever they start at the 4.”
The Thunder have used the same starting five essentially all season, and the same starting five the entire postseason. They don’t change, even if their opponent does.
“We’ve been playing against different lineups all year,” Brooks said. “Serge has done a good job and I give him a lot of credit. We talked about, going into this season, him being able to guard stretch 4s. And he’s done a great job at that. So put Battier out there, and I think Serge is in a good position to do a good job with him.”
Ibaka says he’s ready to defend big or small. And the Thunder have played out all the scenarios and situations. Whatever Miami chooses, OKC should have a plan.
Because at this point, it’s about playing the game. There will be a crazy amount of nerves, a ton of jitters and a whole lot of anxiety. The building will be ballistic, the atmosphere insane. But the Thunder have to just keep it cool, play their game and let the 48 minutes happen as they may. They’re good enough to win. But it won’t happen unless they protect home court. Unless the protect The Peake.
The NBA Finals begin in Oklahoma City tonight and while I am definitely fighting the urge to wax on about what a moment this is for the state and city, how incredible it is to rise to this moment, this reality is it’s about basketball right now. We can reflect later.
It’s an amazing feeling to be here, to know the Thunder are four simple wins from a championship. Surreal, crazy, wild, unreal — fill in the blank. But as good as it feels to be playing for an NBA title, imagine the feeling to win one.
Tip at 8:00 CT. Go Thunder.