Jun 17, 2012; Miam, FL, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks reacts during the first quarter in game three in the 2012 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Is it possible to fire a coach in the middle of the NBA Finals?
Is it possible to fire a coach during the middle of the NBA Finals? The Thunder have been close and I think would have won the last two games if they had a coach making adjustments to the way the Heat are playing them.
On strategy, I'd like to see the Thunder mix in some zone defense but they seem to be unwilling to try it. Chris Bosh is arguably the best jump shooter among the Heat starters; it's not their strength. It's not a secret that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are at best below average jump shooters and more affective when attacking the basket. Last night James shot 11-23 overall but just 3-11 on jump shots. Wade shot 8-22 from the field overall, not great, but much better than his 2-11 on jump shots. Overall James and Wade combined to shoot 12-21 on layups and just 5-22 on jump shots. This isn't rocket science, play some zone, stop their penetration, and force them to shoot from the outside. The entire Heat offense revolves around penetration and getting into the paint. Overall as a team the Heat shot just 8-40 (20%) on jump shots last night, yet for some reason Brooks is unwilling to try something different. With the great length of the Thunder, they'd completely shut down penetration and the passing lanes with a zone defense. The zone will give up a few open looks from the outside, but so what, as the numbers prove; they can't shoot. I'm not suggesting they use it the whole game, but at least mix it in. The Mavericks did last year with a good amount of success and that team isn't half as athletic as OKC.
Even on what should be simple, like his rotation, he seems to fall asleep at the wheel nearly every game. For example, when Durant went out in the 3rd quarter with his 4th foul; why did Brooks also put Russell Westbrook on the bench? Westbrook wasn't in foul trouble, he has young legs; with them both on the bench, where was their offense supposed to come from? Leaving one of his stars on the bench for 3-5 minutes at a time, or leaving Perkins or Fisher on the floor when they're completely ineffective for long stretches seems to have become a habit for Brooks.
The Thunder has had success under Brooks so I don't see them firing him, but I think they should. In my opinion Brooks was a classic example of right place, right time. He took over during the 2008-2009 season after P.J. Carlesimo got off to a 1-12 start. Brooks, with no head coaching experience, inherited a very young, extremely talented roster that was on the verge of exploding and becoming a great team regardless of who their coach was. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just see Brooks as the lucky guy who happened to be the next in line when they made a coaching change on a young team; they could do much better.