More Foul Trouble May Doom Durant





MIAMI — Sometimes, the best defense is offense, and that’s been so true in the case of LeBron James and whomever he has guarded in this post-season, with Kevin Durant being the latest example.

As a defender it’s hard to keep Durant in check, but just the same, it’s hard for Durant to hit jumpers from the bench. Just as he did against Danny Granger and Paul Pierce in the last two rounds, James is trying to get the other team’s best player in foul trouble, and in Game 3, it finally worked against Durant.

The conspiracy theorists will whine about the validity of some of those fouls, with some justification, but point is, by taking the ball to the rim repeatedly, James is forcing Durant to get physical. Which means James is putting himself in position to get the calls his way, which is what superstars do.

And when Durant is carrying four and five fouls, it makes it easier for James to guard Durant in the fourth quarter, because Durant is more willing to settle for jumpers to avoid a charging call. This is a neat strategy cooked up by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and, at least for one game, it paid off.

“Whoever is in front of me, I just try to put pressure on him, whether it’s KD or (James) Harden or (Thabo) Sefolosha or whomever,” said James.

Both coaches in this series are moving their best player around defensively and, for the most part, denying us the James-Durant matchup for a full four quarters. Neither Spoelstra or Scott Brooks want to risk getting their guy in foul trouble because both players are so active offensively. That’s why James will often check Kendrick Perkins, but Durant will either guard James or Dwyane Wade. And while Durant is an above-average defender, that’s a lot to ask of anyone.

Durant was terrific in the fourth quarters of Games 1 and 2, aside from missing the short runner with a few seconds left of the latter game. But clearly, James is concentrating as much or more of his fourth-quarter energy on guarding Durant, which he knows is the key to winning a close game.

It’s all a chess game being played by two coaches and two superstars and there’s no telling what will happen as a result. Every game is different than the next. But the next adjustment must be made by Brooks and Durant.

54 Comments

  1. OKC is being outplayed not by the numbers but by the rules. The rules (hand-checking) are in favor of a Miami style type of play. Attacking the rim just opens up more opportunity for those calls. If there is any conspiracy it’s the hand-checking rule being applied. It stops the flow of the game and James, Wade and Bosh are exploiting it. jordan would’ve made millions of points under this system. That’s why they came together though. I’m a Miami fan since Manut Bowl so I’m happy the rules swing in our favor but you can’t help but think that Pat Riley and Eric Spolestra knew what they were doing under these NBA circumstances. Good for Miami bad for OKC. You can’t get mad at calls left up to the interpretation of the refs when the rules give them the right to said interpretation.

    With that said Heat in 5. Go Heat.

  2. lol says:

    LMAO! Cry baby OKC fans make me laugh so hard! love it! love it! Especially when OKC didn’t even draft their players, given to them by the Sonics hard work…

  3. Bryan says:

    Love OKC and Lebron has ridiculous talent. Either team wins and I’m fine with it. Yeah OKC had some bad calls, but game two they dug themselves a huge hole and game three they missed way too many free throws to really be upset.

    Not about conspiracy, it’s about money. A new budding rivalry between the two best players in the league and a series that goes six or seven games on TV gets Stern a lot more cash than four or five, regardless of who walks away with the trophy.

    Anyone who believes Tim Donaghy acted alone for all those years is a fool. Even if the other two refs on the court merely swallowed their whistles to allow him to make bad calls, they had to know something was up. And if they knew something was up and did nothing about it….

  4. Daniel says:

    Refs leading the series 2-1. Time to give the Heat a chance to win one on their own. If it doesn’t work, the refs can always take over in the following two games and close the series.

  5. dj151 says:

    brooks keep on playing fisher almost the entire 2nd, that’s were there disaster started. clearly hi’s being outcoached by spoesltra. plus the refs are calling cheap foul on durant

  6. Timbersteak says:

    Y’all OKC fans/miami haters sour losers! I call all the san antanio fans to come up ad talk about officiating during the WCF!
    Hypocrites, stright cheap! when san antonio fans where complaining about the calls. Thunders fans came up and said “that’s how it goes, on the losing side people complain about whistles” and I AGREE but now you have the nerve to come here and complain about it? hahaha KD is a bad defender and he should stop doing stupid little fouls and you guys can cry all you want. Biased is biased nobody CARES about your opinion! shmugs

    • akosibonik says:

      hit ‘em thunder fans hard! whining instead of supporting their team.

    • SATAN says:

      Ok. So when your Miami Heat loses, you’ll be the one bitching and whining right?

      • pakyaw says:

        NOPE!.. everytime Heat loses we dont make excuses(REFS,STERN,CONSPIRANCY,ETC,ETC) Instead we critizice the whole team,either LBJ, WADE or COACH SPO…coz we know we are the best team… come visit on HEAT FORUM sometimes,maybe u learn something…

    • .....justplayball !! says:

      ….called “sore losers”……lol…………… just play the game and hit more shots, more free throws and things will get better for OKC …IF not ..Well………….

  7. Just Enjoy The Game says:

    I don’t know if I can agree anymore with the calls, bad calls and no calls.
    So I’ll leave it there!
    Durant has been really playing at his extremes. He’s 23 yet I feel like he’s just like Lebron’s age playing the ball there. I’m not an LBJ hater, in fact I want him to get his first ring but not in a Miami team. Wade is pissing me off. I just don’t like everytime his face appears on my screen. Spell- CHEAP. That is Wade. (nothing follows….)
    Game 4 ia a big game for both team. If Miami wins, OKC will be facing elimination in game 5. If OKC wins, well you know they are unstoppable.
    I’m still rooting for Thunder to win in 7…

  8. gurgur says:

    As a diehard heat fan, I agree and disagree at the same time
    I agree that
    the “foul” on Wade was ridiculous and shameful, and Lebron did escape the whistle in the next-to-last possesion of game 2.
    However
    The refs also missed a few against Lebron, otherwise he’d have more 3 point plays, and westbrook and durant both had debatable putbacks uncalled for goaltending. I think it’s pretty fair overall, and I would appreciate it if more people watched the actual game before getting all the facts of the 3rd qtr run wrong and blaming it all on refs.
    Well, hope the heat win. I’ve been a fan of Lebron since he defeated those wizards, and I don’t care what anyone else says, but he is the person most deserving of a ring right now.

  9. Lisa Dillard says:

    Every time Wade or Lebron is fouled, they go whining to the ref’s… OKC is better team, then we’ve been seeing and it all has to do with Durant being in foul trouble…the Heats strategy,in getting a ring is to take the best OKC player out of the game..and then and only then do they win by less than double digits 4, 5 and 6 points…they better keep Kevin in foul trouble, but I doubt it. OKC in 6!

    • Willem says:

      So who is smart here? Durant commits the fouls, also two silly ones, while he knows he;s that an important player for his team…
      besides that lebron is just attacking him more than the other way around…

  10. Rocks says:

    I’m a huge basketball fan but the sport is not big in my country. But that didn’t stop me to follow NBA or Euroleague from the 90′s. I don’t consider myself a basketball aficionado but the officiating of the previous 2 games (2012 NBA finals 2 & 3) left a bad taste in my mouth. I understand it’s a tough job to officiate in games of this magnitude (NBA Finals) but the least that is expected is consistency. If you let the players to be physical from the 1st quarter then let it be the whole game. If you want a clean contest then keep it that way from the jump. But if you want to pick and choose fouls then you are likely to call or miss game changing fouls. I think that’s the problem I have spotted with those games’ officiating. It’s sad when basketball fans debate about officiating instead plays or refs instead of players. Sad indeed.

  11. Boston1970 says:

    I totally agree – Refs have ruined this final. LBJ can do anything he wants without any calls on him. It is ok, if the other team can do the same. As I see the teams do not have the same chances, NBA wants MIA to win the Series and this makes the game unenjoyable. I will give on more chance to this final, if next game will be cheated, too, I will not watch this comedy, thats all.
    And next year the Refs should sit down in the preseason, decide which team will win the season and announce it. This way they dont have to play the games at all, no injuries, no arguments, etc.
    … and NFL will have even more fans instead of NBA.

  12. akosibonik says:

    calls or non call what ever, the fact is both teams had their chances, miami grabbed it, and OKC had their youth intervene. the only reason why miami will win is because they’ve learned their lesson, dwade, bosh, coach spoelstra and especially LBJ. they know how to lose, that’s the beauty of this miami team, they lose together. they now can win, because now they are a team, yes, they are already a team. i say OKC is not yet out, with the odds against them, let’s see what they do, if miami come out with this title, it will be well deserved, not because of the NBA, stern nor the refs. it is designed by the basketball Gods. if LeBron had his first ring 8 years ago, then we all be cavs and LBJ fans. that’s why basketball is a much loved sports, you’ll never know what you gonna get. but expect LBJ’s first ring. heat in 5.

  13. NBAFAN says:

    Its ridiculous to suggest that the NBA are instructing the refs to call against durant because they want lebron to win a ring. If anything it’s in the leagues best interest to have the leagues two best players on the court for as long as possible, the longer lebron and durant are on the court, the more exciting the games, the more exciting the games, the higher the ratings and the higher the ratings, the more money the NBA rakes in. And anyway its obviously a broad officiating problem, there have been numerous times when players from both teams have been fouled when in fact they didn’t even make contact and any suggestion that the league is helping lebron is just a symptom of haters who are pissed because lebron didn’t choose their team, either that or bandwagon haters.

  14. HackIt says:

    Hack it. If the calls were going okc way you would not be complaining. If u want to see lebron fail watch last years finals cause he is DOMINATING this years. Plain and simple. Blame who ever u want, think what ever you want but all I know is the heat are KILLING it.

  15. TRUEBLOOD says:

    Maybe the league wants to win LBJ a Ring, same thing last years finals that they want the mavs to win it.. both teams do their job and the referees too.. My biggest question till now is, Why didnt coach Brooks let Ibaka Play in Crunch Time?

  16. sanjay says:

    durant is no defender man and he cant guard lebron, and hence the foul calls. I agree there were couple for durant that could have been avoided. But bottom line is durant continue to get in to foul trouble, if he tries to guard lebron and also go against him!

  17. ruseloriva says:

    I respect champions who became champions the hard way – through bad luck. Lebron has been ALMOST to the ring so many times that whenever he gets a championship, he is too mature to let it go that easily. Even in chess, champions who made it after ten years of trying (that’s ten years of being number 2 or 3 ) tend to stay for 20 years or more (Kasparov and Anand).

    Lebron has mature play – consistent, game-changing and poised under pressure. Things that were not Lebron a year ago.

  18. nhard says:

    man! cant believe im seeing people talkin bout calls and non-calls,.dude, this is the nba this is the finest of the world! we’re in the finals! arent u man enough to face defeat?and making excuses why u lose?those players,.non call or not,.they go and play again the next day,.no excuses..thats bcoz born winners dont make excuses like u guys..if u dont like the calls by the refs,.get in the arena and be one of the refs,.and lets see how good can u make the calls..

  19. sportslove99 says:

    The league wants lebron to win. The fouls on Kevin Durant are disgusting. The foul on wade where he doesent touch him. The foul when lebron bulldozes through durant and its a foul on durant. Of course the heat can beat the thunder if durant isn’t playing in the game. The refs just have to pin phantom fouls on durant and he is on the bench and the heat can just win games. The heat were down 10 before durant went out. But yet durant can’t get the same calls at the end of games and they loose! Let Oklahoma play their superstar so we can see his full talent on display on the biggest stage!!

    • Talentz to Souf Beach says:

      What is interesting about your comment is that it only represents one half of the story. The other half, of course, comes from Heat fans who feel that each and every one of the Durant fouls is justified. However, if you ask them about the offensive foul James commited at the end of Game 4 of the ECF to foul out, they will tell you that the refs got it wrong. Pretty much it’s a difference of opinion, which is not what good officiating should be.

      It’s so like the WWE that it is ridiculous. Heroes. Heels. Differences of opinion on who has the best wrestling move. Flashy ridiculous costumes (see Westbrook and Wade’s wardrobes). Everything but a chair to the back and a ref to get get piledriven to the hardwood (Ron Artest isn’t playing in the Finals so that won’t be possible).

      Check out the video I posted above. Especially the last half. Watch all the contact Jordan took on all his shots. By today’s standards he was getting mugged on every play. It’s no wonder he said he could score 100 points in today’s game.

      Get rid of this hand checking rule and let the players play. Heat fans feel LeBron deserves more fouls, when in reality he deserves a lot less than he gets. Durant barely grazed his arm on his drive to the basket in Game 3. That is not a foul by old NBA standards. It would have had to alter the shot in some significant way, which it didn’t.

      Too many “And 1′s for LBJ and Wade. Let’s be honest. When Wade and James got together and guaranteed multiple championships, you have to imagine that they discussed with each other how they would get the benefit of the calls with today’s current rules. They knew they would get phantom fouls and a lot of help. Hard to imagine them NOT talking about that when they talked about getting together.

      LBJ (or Kobe for that matter) as the G.O.A.T. is such a ridiculous idea that anyone with a knowledge of the game longer than 10 years has to laugh. Only a complete moron and loser would think LBJ would ever be the G.O.A.T. So what is LBJ? He is pretty much a bigger and stronger Scottie Pippen if he played back in the 80′s. Getting a ring this year won’t change anything in terms of basketball history. If LBJ and Wade played back in the old NBA and looked at the refs for the foul, they would have been laughed off the court.

      Again, the video I posted pretty much says it all. Jordan would have gone to the line 40 times a game with today’s rules.

      The NBA has gone downhill folks. Youtube is at your disposal if you ever need evidence why.

      Like Morpheus told Neo: “Free your mind!”

    • Sick says:

      are you blind? OKC lead by 10 when Durant is on the bench…
      what game are you watching?

    • LBJ says:

      Why everytime MIAMI win there’s a lot of issue about the official? You can accept the fact that JAMES is doing here games while he is in Cavaliers. Lebron James is different from Lebron James last year.
      Accept the fact that Miami will get a TITLE THIS YEAR… Heat in 5

  20. NBA101 says:

    i both like miami and oklahoma, but the call of the referee i dont like so far this series is they dont call the foul from James from Durant last game 2.. Lets forget all about it and enjoy the game..

  21. Talentz to Souf Beach says:

    Don’t know why it didn’t upload right. Here is the vid…

  22. Talentz to Souf Beach says:

    The entire officiating problem can be broken down in two simple words: HAND CHECKING. They changed the rules in the modern era so that you can’t touch a player at all. What you end up with is subjective officiating. Fans end up arguing foul calls and personal opinions come into play.

    But the simple truth is that EVERY player (yes, including LeBron James) on the floor is drawing six fouls every game but the refs are only calling the ones that they want to call. The results are uneven and leave one team feeling robbed.

    The rule changes in the 2000′s were the Trojan Horse to allow for the games to be controlled by the officiating. It’s how a guy like Tim Donaghy went years fixing games without being detected.

    LBJ (and Kobe and others) will never be the G.O.A.T. because his game would be a disaster in the old NBA. What people think are fouls today would have been love taps in the 1980′s. Anyone who is a fan of the modern NBA is watching a watered down version of what it should be. It’s a complete joke to even put LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in the same sentence as MJ, Bird, or Magic.

    Check out this video if you want to get a real understanding of how the game has changed for the worse.

  23. Frozenshaddow10 says:

    agree to that! i love KD but i love Bron more! let’s celebrate for Bron’s first ring!

    • OKCKD35 says:

      wow, this sounds like the Spurs fans in her all over again, you have a one game lead and you are calling for a ring already, regardless of if the refs give the heat 11 more FT than the Thunder, we will still find a way to win, what are the heat going to do now that both Crawfords have already ref’ed their games?

      • Miami says:

        lol. You wish okc

      • Russell Westbrook says:

        are you giving trying to find an excuse if we lose? Shame on you! True OKC fans never blame calls! KD and RW will played it through, calls are part of the game and we all know it!(except those Lakers Kings series which was called by corrupted refs) GO OKC!

      • .....justplayball !! says:

        Well, well……. How does it feel to have Joey on the other side??? I told you you would have a chance to feel the poor officiating in the next series….don’t start cryin’ now after all the trash talk to the Spurs fans who told you something you should have already known by now if you have been watching for as long as you have……. Got alot of nerve to call out an official after getting games handed to you by the same one, typical though!! ….lmao……. IF the heat do win … Will it be because they are superior to your thunder or will it be because of biased refs…. I still hope the Thunder beat the Heat AND the poor calls…. that would be the best ….. I would be surprised though….. The next refs won’t help you out any in the next games, So the team HAS to be at their best in shooting % and foul shooting % or it will NOT happen…..GO_Thunder… Beat the East !!

      • .....justplayball !! says:

        Spurs were up 2-0 after having swept 2 playoff teams…..NOTE the difference, OKCKD35???

    • Russell Westbrook says:

      yes btw, it’s 2-1 now and If we win tonite, it’s 2-2. Shall we celebrate KD & RW first ring as well?

      • Willem says:

        Maybe we should just celebrate whatever happens:)
        Still hope Miami wins though :)

      • Russell Westbrook says:

        right on, it’s 3-1 now so should we start bitching and blame official? Not for me, OKC played a great game, RW was super although Harden really disappointed me but lebron really showed some clutchness there. tip my hat to him but i am still rooting OKC! This is a very good finals no matter what the outcome is.

  24. RR says:

    Something should be said on the way the refs allow Lebron to committ fouls on other players and not get called foul, but if any player is close to James the Refs will call a foul on that player.Tell me how can Okc beat the Refs? No team beat the Heat and
    the Refs too! It’s not fair.

    • KOBE says:

      agree…OKC UP BY 10 IN 3RD AND JOEY CRAWFORD CALLS DURANT FOR FOULING WADE (DIDNT EVEN TOUCH HIM) AND THAT SENT DURANT TO BENCH AND THAT CHANGED THE WHOLE GAME..

      • Francisco says:

        wrong they went up to 10 while durant was on bench

      • Knickfan says:

        yeah they created that lead when kd is on the bench. ignorant.

      • OKCKD35 says:

        they were up by 6 when durant went to the bench. That was the turning point in the game, OKc had just come back from behind, taken the lead and started to make a run. What did we do to deserve Danny Crawford (missed the last second foul on LeBron in game 2) and Joey Crawford (the worst ref in the NBA) in back to back games. regardless of the officitaing though OKc should have not have let the Heat be close enough to win the games on calls. Sometimes bad calls hurt sometimes they help. There is no consistency in the way the games are being called though. Only 1 star is getting the star treatment in the finals LBJ is averaging 9.6 attempts per game where KD is getting 6.3 and a number of bad calls, he has only fouled out once in his career, yet 2 games in a row in the finals he spends a lot of time on the bench in foul trouble. I’m not screaming conspiracy, just asking for the calls to be even, if arm contact on one side of the floor is a foul, the exact contact on the other side should be a fould as well. I have been seeing a lot of weak foul calls to build up into the penalty and send stars to the bench

      • .....justplayball !! says:

        …..Here is what YOU did to DESERVE those two refs OKCKD35…… You claimed that Joey C. had nothing to do with your wins in SA …… so don’t start cryin’ NOW!!! Obviously he has made a big impact on these playoffs…. AND why he is still on the job in the Finals as well is ….. welll…. obvious as well……. does the NBA have ANY other refs??????? ….PS: I did say that the Thunde would be able to experience just what they ARE experiencing….. and IF they lose ……. regardless of how KD feels about it…. They WILL have to ‘wait their turn’……

    • Francisco says:

      excuses, lebron is fouled constantly but he is so strong that those fouls are not called

      • OKCKD35 says:

        Lebron also lowers his shoulder everytime he does his (illegal) jumpstop then layup, yet its never called. They should change that rule like they changed the rule because KD was getting to the FT line with the rip move.

      • KOBE says:

        were u a heat fan before lebron got there ..i doubt that..

      • .....justplayball !! says:

        what rule was changed because of a 3rd or fourth year player???

    • Weatherd says:

      totally azgree.

    • LETS GO HEAT! says:

      I don’t know what series you have been watching , but LeBron gets grabbed and mauled at all the time. Sometimes he literally needs the be hit on the way to the basket and during his shot multiple times before anything is called; he just too big and strong to let little hits to get noticed . Also, maybe number 2 (Durant) is just not used to having to guard number 1 (LeBron). Take that number 2! I’m number one! says LeBron. Durant just needs to clear the run way sometimes and realize when he has been beaten to the basket.

      • Douglas says:

        Dont even go there digging excuses not good. One call either way in the Dallas, San Anton series OKC wouldn’t even be here. The refs are not biased on there calls, true professionals making impossible calls. Even in slow mo they couldn’t make the correct call so what kind of pressure do you think they are under. Let the calls fall where they fall you can cry later.

      • airtupas says:

        There’s no way you can’t touch LeBron when he’s attacking the basket. You can’t expect the refs to do the same for other players when they are not as agressive as LeBron. He’s just way too smart now. OKC (and KD) will have their own time though, and it’s not now.