OKC Thunder (13-4, 4-3 road) vs. Miami Heat (13-7, 8-2 home)
Series tied 1-1
View from the enemy: Heat Index
Game 3, the next most important game of all time.
The series shifts to South Beach where the Heat have home court advantage for the next three. What it means is that the Thunder have to win at least once to get the series back to Oklahoma City because if not, it ends. Win twice, and the Thunder are in prime position to get this done. Win three times and you don’t get to watch your Thunder at home again this season, and trust me, you won’t care.
You can look at this thing two ways. 1) The optimistic way which has the Thunder only needing to win one of three to get the series back to OKC. Or the pessimistic way which has the Thunder needing to win at least one to stave off elimination. Either way, the goal is simple: Win one.
And why not start with Game 3? Because getting it done sooner than later means the focus of the series completely shifts. Instead of focusing on one of three, the Thunder could approach Game 4 differently, and even Game 5 potentially as a clincher. Which is why Game 3 is going to swing this thing greatly.
Letting a 2-0 series lead slip through your fingers means this series is going to be tough. But falling behind 2-1, with the potential to go down 3-1, will make it incredibly difficult. The Heat don’t have the most intimidating of home courts in the league and the Thunder have proven themselves on the road this postseason, winning twice in Dallas, once in Los Angeles and taking a must-win Game 5 from the Spurs in San Antonio. This group definitely has enough toughness and ability to get it done. It’s just about doing it.
Obviously the first six minutes are going to be the focus of Game 3 and I agree with a lot that maybe getting away from the excitement in The Peake could help. Less pressure to start fast and get the crowd going.
It’s not so much about the start though, as it is about the finish. Start slow, finish well and you’re looking at a 2-1 series lead. The Thunder have to make their own imprint on the game, make the Heat feel them, force their style of play on them. The Thunder played fairly awful in Game 2, and yet were within a Kevin Durant jumper (foul) from playing an overtime period for a 2-0 lead. These guys can do this.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Thunder.