Collison Shows Off His Clutch Game





OKLAHOMA CITY – The second half and fourth quarter of Game 1 were about more than just Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.

It was about their role players, those other guys stepping up and filling in wherever needed. Those guys like Thabo Sefolosha and Nick Collison, whose ability to play in those wide open spaces that are created when Durant and Westbrook have it going can help turn the momentum in the Thunder’s favor.

Collison was prepared for a larger role in this series after it became clear that the Heat would deploy their smaller lineup with LeBron James, Udonis Haslem, Shane Battier and Chris Bosh playing the majority of the frontcourt minutes.

The results for the Thunder were even better than anyone could have imagined. Collison came through with eight points, on 4-for-5 shooting, 10 rebounds (five offensive, including two tips that led to crucial Thunder baskets in the fourth quarter), quality screens, plus all the intangibles that have become his hallmark. And he did it in 21 minutes of pure efficiency and non-stop energy.

As the Thunder rallied from an early 13-point deficit to take control after halftime, especially in the fourth quarter when he played all but 29 seconds, it was clear that this was the type of game Collison’s game was made for.

“You always have the opportunity to play hard and try to chase rebounds,” Collison said. “Defensively, I was trying to figure out how to help out. LeBron and Dwyane Wade were so good attacking that you’ve got to just get in position to help.”

With help like Collison and Sefolosha, Thunder coach Scott Brooks can cook up all sorts of lineups to address whatever group the Heat goes with in this series.

Getting production on both ends from these guys, but especially Collison (whose minutes vary depending on the matchups), becomes a bonus for OKC.

“I was just trying to be active,” Collison said. “I don’t play a lot of minutes, so when I’m out there, I’m trying to play hard as I can and just trying to be as aware as I can and just go chase the ball.”

Collison’s four points, four rebounds and steal in the fourth quarter showed off a clutch gene that casual observers probably didn’t realize he had. We’re talking about a guy who has played 16.9 minutes per game this postseason playing the most crucial 11 minutes and 31 seconds of the Thunder’s season, to date.

An eight-year veteran and the longest-tenured member of this team (he was drafted with the 12th pick in the 2003 Draft by Seattle), Collison’s contributions are appreciated in his own locker room.

“He means a lot to us,” Durant said. “He’s been sacrificing his body, taking charges all season. Just playing hard. He could care less about how many shots he takes or how many rebounds he gets, he’s just going to play hard and do what the coaches tell him to do. He’s just a great teammate to have. We’ve got to just give him confidence by feeding him down low on those dump-off passes for dunks and he’s going to come back down and give it his all on the defensive end.”

Collison’s “all” was exactly what the Thunder needed at closing time in Game 1. And they’ll probably need more of it from him in this series.

47 Comments

  1. ben says:

    I think this article is making collison better then he really is…. I don’t agree with it and the fact is I believe Ibaka would have done a lot better defensively late in the game while collision fouled over and over and was a defensive liability the whole 4th quarter. you take away those offensive rebounds and those two give me points at the end and you got a guy who barely did anything. Collison was the only reason the heat had any shot of coming back in the forth…. If Ibaka was in the game the game would have been sealed a lot earlier.

  2. gwapo me says:

    i think OkC is playing a better team than the HEAT.. OKC got this one but still hopin HEAT wins..!

  3. HEATfan says:

    HEAT IN 5

  4. SteIreland says:

    always thought Collison was their best defender last year on Nowitzki. I had $150 on Dallas to win it all and every time they put Nick on him I had heart palpitations.

    You got to have guys like him on the team. he could probably have a bit bigger role on a lesser time but he’s perfect there in OKC.

  5. Patrickmarc says:

    Sefolosha is a spectacular player and the team is playing so well when he is there.

    Last year Collison showed what he was able to do against Nowitski, he was in his legs all the time
    and Nowitski was missing shots.

  6. kobe24 says:

    HEAT in 6

  7. Fefe (Nets) says:

    @John from OKC: LOL who is Archer???? It’s Cole ALDRICH!!!! Know the players before talking B.S.

    Collison has always been an efficient player doing the dirty work in the paint and staying a good teammate. I’m happy for him & the team. OKC will need him along with every player on the roster in order to win this trophy.

    OKC 4 – 2 Miami!!! That’s my bet.

  8. ontifex says:

    thunder will win this series but i still go to may team lets go heat

  9. sherap23 says:

    Everyone thought Spurs would win over OKC and now it’s OKC over Heat. This year NBA playoff sure seems unpredictable.

  10. Kenoath says:

    Collison is exactly the reason why a team like OKC work, the bench is deep and all the roll players go out there do there job 100% and they do it so well. As great a player LeBron and D Wade are they got to get through a deep, hungry and talented team in OKC. On that note I never like Fisher at the Lakers (just not a Lakers fan) but at OKC I think he is doing a great job, OKC were very smart to pick him up.

  11. This is funny says:

    Hey. The Thunder are going to win this series easy. They play really bad the first half and the heat and queen james still couldnt handle them.
    If I told you at the beginning of the season that Derek Fisher was going to get his 6th ring before Kobe Bryant, and that Kevin Durant would get his first rig before Lebron (he’s never going to win aring). would you have believed me??
    But do you believe me now. CRAZY… LETS GOT THUNDER the Heat simple can’t take them.

  12. suicidebombs says:

    I love how every article that people write tries to find something pleasant to say about another member of the Thunder squad to credit nearly every player with being ’the’ key to the victory. Durant dropping bombs on the Heat in the last quarter was the reason they won the game. Let’s not sugar-coat it with puff pieces about Collison and Thabo. They were good, but DFish having a good three-pointer didn’t win the game. There has never been a game won by the team that scored the fewest points. If KD hadn’t found his niche in the last quarter we would all be sitting here arguing about how the Thunder managed to let Battier get 17 points in a game dominated otherwise by players 10 years younger than he is.

    • kush says:

      the reason why the thunder won was because of durant scoring? is basketball only played at 1 end of the court? were you even watching the game? you are clueless my friend.

  13. suicidebombs says:

    I love how every article that people write tries to find something pleasant to say about another member of the Thunder squad to credit nearly every player with being ‘the’ key to the victory. Durant dropping bombs on the Heat in the last quarter was the reason they won the game. Let’s not sugar-coat it with puff pieces about Collison and Thabo. They were good, but DFish having a good three-pointer didn’t win the game. There has never been a game won by the team that scored the fewest points. If KD hadn’t found his niche in the last quarter we would all be sitting here arguing about how the Thunder managed to let Battier get 17 points in a game dominated otherwise by players 10 years younger than he is.

  14. ThunderUp says:

    First of all, congratulations to the OKC Thunder for winning game 1. They played as a team and they acted cool and composed during the crucial moments of the game. The big story of game 1 IMO, was OKC’s role players outmatched Miami’s role players (if they have any :-D). However, this is just game one. OKC should always be prepared and always treat the games in this series as a game seven game. The Heat still has a chance to win this series (here’s hoping that they lose). Game 2 is a crucial game, if the Heat wins game 2, OKC will lose the home court advantage and probably the series.

    Let’s go OKC! Thunder Up!

  15. Tony from Sydney says:

    Keep in mind that Colison was a dream team member while he was still in college. He was one of the superstars in college, but his contribution in the NBA has been just fair but steady because he accepted his role of a reserve. He deserves a lot of credit just for that, and by winning at least a championship should be the very least of his reward. Even through the Laker’s series, you can tell the guy is a work horse and he is full of energy at the defensive end provides occasional buckets as a bonus.

  16. digitioli says:

    The Thunder came out tight and lax defensively, the heat shot the lights out, and they still couldn’t pull away. No way Battier is going to shoot like that again. That’s about as good a chance as the heatles are going to get to win one if it’s a fair game. Collison got called for 3 phantom fouls and bronny is pushing people all over the place and no calls per usual. If the refs can keep it to about 4 to 1 bad calls against the Thunder like it was in game one, they’ll sweep the heat – they have no chance in a fair game against these guys. I love it how Fisher does it again with clutch shooting and tough D! Total team effort by the Thunder – everyone contributing and keeping their poise. Durant is really something special as a player and a leader.

    • .....justplayball !! says:

      ….bad calls, bad calls??? You know refs don’t make bad calls!! ….. you mean even when your team WINS ….they won IN SPITE of bad calls???…… WOW , I wonder what will happen when you lose to these guys ?? Oh yeah, ……. It will be the refs, because that is the only reason why OKC loses, Right??? This series should be full of bad calls……..I will be surprised if bronbron loses 2 straight Finals……. not because the are unbeatable –they’re not— but because of all the money and energy and HYPE the nba has lavished all over him …..just to see him be a 3-time loser ?? Man …… I hope I’m wrong about this…. GO_OKC

  17. rizz says:

    James and Wade step it up with Bosh. Heat in 6.

  18. TeamKD says:

    It feels good when you been telling people all year Okc and Durant will the championship this year lol I was wrong last year about Okc winning it all but not this year yesssss! lol

    • .....justplayball !! says:

      ….this just in…. the series is NOT OVER until the fourth game is won…. Good first game…..Go___OKC

  19. LOLakers says:

    Blunder have no chance! Wade was off all night and the Blunder still didn’t lead until almost the end of the third quarter! If Wade and Bosh play well then the Blunder don’t have a prayer! Heat in 5!!!

    • MIAMIWHO says:

      @LOLakers, you gotta be smokin crack if you think the heat are going to win this series. It pains me to think your a crack head, becasue im a Laker fan too. But the heat dont stand a chance in this series.

    • Brad T says:

      Keep shooting those 3’s Bosh, after all, they let you guys escape from the Celtics, they MUST work on the Thunder

    • QuestionMark says:

      Your gonna appear and talk trash on every HTB aren’t you? You should already know Heat have no chance, and why did Bosh and Wade struggle? Because Sefolosha and Ibaka were guarding and why did Lebron struggle in the 4th? Because Sefolosha was guarding him. That should say something. It says Bosh won’t play well at all, and Wade really hasn’t been playing like himself in the Playoffs. And I’m laughing at the fact that you said the Heat would sweep OKC, what happened? And now you say Heat in 5, then OKC is gonna win Game 2 and your gonna say Heat in 6, thats not gonna happen and never will. I think Miami will win 1 or 2 games at home, but no way can they win in OKC.

  20. DANITo says:

    the heat played really good and shot the 3 very good , still couldnt win. i wonder what will happen when their shots dont fall. il say thunder in 4. heat stand no chance

  21. Brad T says:

    How come I can’t find a damn page on the whole nba.com site that shows a scoring breakdown quarter by quarter anymore? It used to be under notebook/box-score?

    • old school spurs says:

      hover your mouse over the score on the home page when you have the “finals score / schedule up” and it gives you the options there.

  22. PC says:

    Right on. Collison and Sefolosha are type of players the Heat lacks. Players that are willing to sacrifice their bodies often. That means, giving their all on the defensive end and always staying aware of the ball dumping to them at any given moment on the offensive end. Doing the little things in life or aka a basketball game will get success and victory.

  23. ThunderUp!! says:

    Collison is extremely underrated, one of the best defensive big men. The reason Miami lost last yr was because Tyson Chandler abused Miami’s big men. again, Thunder are bigger and that is a key in this series.

  24. purpandgold says:

    Collison, Sefolosha, and Fisher set the tone in the 4th qtr. Their defensive intensity, tenacity, and hustle was too much for the Heat. The Thunder have too much togetherness, too much closeness and team play mentality for the Heat. The stars and bench players have a common goal and understand their roles. Personal stats dont mean a thing to these guys, they just want to win, for their team mates and the city they represent. They appreciate the opportunity they have been given. You can see it in their faces and read it in their eyes. Those are the type of pieces that make up a championship team. With this guys contributing this way, the Thunder take down the crown in 4 or 5 games.

    • Spiller says:

      Let’s just hope that’s true. I fear that some of this articles will someday piss of a guy like Sefolosha or Perkins. Like f.e. the “Staying Cole” article by Sekou where he credits Durant for the bad shooting of Bron in the 4th when it was clearly Sefolosha who did the work. I’m not saying the players don’t get enough credit in the locker room but they don’t get enough credit in the media. Some players are cool with that, thrilled even, others aren’t. I just hope they can keep this group together for a long time!

      • OKC 2012 says:

        Hopefully if sefelosha does get pissed off it makes him better not worse! Sefelosha deserved game ball last night for his defense he was spectacular on wade and james with the switches from the pick and roll and his defense in the third and fourth changed that game!!!

    • Jkey says:

      Spot on. I never really took much notice of Collison in his playing years, but that last game was amazing. His effort on the boards slapping it back into play really helped put pressure on the Heat and Sef and Fish played their roles excellently. I really took notice of Collison’s help on the court and certainly look forward to seeing what he does in Game 2.

  25. Nouri says:

    He is a player every team need.

  26. Queen James says:

    Maimi role player should be more time to perform, as queen jame will spend more time putting on his make up

  27. John From OKC says:

    I was thinking before the game that Collison might get more minutes than usual. Perkins and Mohammed aren’t great at guarding quick people and Archer’s only a rookie. Process of elimination leaves Collison, unless Ibaka moves to what isn’t really his best position.

    GO THUNDER!

  28. Collison isn’t flashy, but he is pretty damn effective. You gotta give it to the guy, he shows up to work everyday and works his butt off.