Heading into the playoff finals I had the Thunder favoured to come out on top in seven games. Now they find themselves on the verge of being eliminated in five. I always thought that the Thunder were a much deeper team. With Durant able to trade baskets with Lebron James, and Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade evenly matched in scoring.
That left the reigning sixth-man of the year, James Harden, matched up with the likes of Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, and Mike Miller. Prior to the series opener it seemed like Harden would be the deciding factor of the series. Chris Bosh could be easily neutralized by Serge Ibaka and open looks aplenty for Derek Fisher and Thabo Sefolosha.
So who is to blame?
Is it Scott Brooks who can’t seem to come up with a efficient line up? Is Russell Westbrook playing too much hero ball? Maybe Kevin Durant wants a break from Momma D’s kisses after those wins?
James Harden, aka FTB (fear the beard), has pulled a magnificent disappearing act in the finals. Without a reliable third scoring option the Thunder have resorted to playing hero-ball. Give the ball to the player who’s hot and cross your fingers. In Game 4 it was Russell Westbrook, and before that it was Kevin Durant. Everyone knows that teams win championships, not individuals. Nobody knows that better than Lebron James in his Cleveland days.
Aside from a 21-point scoring effort from Harden in Game 2 and a 10-rebound outing in Game 4; Harden hasn’t been the bearded Manu-Ginobili that we’ve been used to. Throughout the series Harden has shot 13 for 37, committed 17 personal fouls, and 9 turnovers. Without James Harden the Thunder can’t beat the Miami Heat. Durant and Westbrook may score 70 points together but it won’t be enough if the rest of the team can’t top 30 points.
Let’s hope the Thunder can beat the history books and overcome the 3-1 deficit to come out on top.
Good luck, you’ll need it.