Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

June 16, 2012

South Beach Factor no concern to Thunder

NBA Finals notebook

MIAMI — It's called the South Beach Factor. And it's been a boost to the Miami Heat over the years.

The Oklahoma City Thunder aren't worried about it having a role in the next three games of these NBA Finals.

In short, here's how it works: Teams come into Miami, settle into their posh hotel, then hit the open-until-very-late club scene on South Beach (the main strip of which is several miles from the arena, despite the common assumption otherwise). They stay out longer than they should, are a little weary-legged the next day, and the Heat take advantage of that on the court in the game.

"I don't think when you get to this point on guys that are not committed, guys that are not really locked in, geared in to what we're doing as a group," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Miami is a great city, there's no question. It's a great environment, but we're here to play basketball. There's only 10 days, two weeks left of the season, then there's plenty of time to vacation."

For the record, the Thunder do not plan on changing hotels during their stay in Miami, or moving the team farther away from some of South Beach's glitz and glamour. Dallas moved hotels in 2006 after losing Games 3 and 4 in Miami, heading to a hotel more north of the arena. The Mavs lost Game 5 anyway, then went home and were closed out by the Heat in Game 6 that year.

"I remember that story," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, the MVP of that season's finals. "But I think maybe during the regular season a team comes here once and will enjoy it, but not during the finals. You look at the season and say, 'Man, there's only 10 days left in the season at best.' I don't think it's a trap. I don't think the urge to want to go out and enjoy Miami is that important right now, especially when in 10 days you can enjoy it as much as you want."

Brooks certainly doesn't sound all that concerned. He was asked Saturday about the perils his team might face in Miami the next few days.

"What about the coaches?" Brooks deadpanned.

As laughter broke out in the room, Brooks was quick to point out that his wife also made the trip with him to Miami.

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