Down 2-1 to Miami in the NBA Finals, Oklahoma City's formula for getting back into the series Tuesday night (ABC/7, 9 p.m.) may be as simple as keeping its stars on the floor.
Leading 60-53 in the third quarter of Sunday's 101-95 loss, Thunder coach Scott Brooks sat leading scorer Kevin Durant with 5:41 left after he picked up his fourth foul, and then yanked point guard Russell Westbrook after some questionable decision making. The Heat went on a 16-7 run with the two standouts on the bench, enabling them to get back into the game. By the time Durant and Westbrook returned, Miami had regained the lead and went on to close out the game in the fourth quarter.
So far in this tightly contested series, the winner of the battle between Durant and Westbrook and Heat stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade has been the victor.
Oklahoma City won the battle in Game 1, with their duo combining for 63 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists, but the two have faltered a bit in Games 2 and 3.
To take Game 4, the pair have to best their Heat counterparts - which means they can't be on the bench in critical moments.