NBA finals pre-Game 5 notes: Harden’s hand and some coach speak
MIAMI — Some notes from inside the AmericanAirlines Arena before Game 5 between the Thunder and Heat:
• Thunder coach Scott Brooks said James Harden and his bruised left hand were “fine.”
“He bruised his left hand, but he’s not affected,” Brooks said. “That kid is as tough as anybody on our team. He understands that you play through everything. Everybody is banged up.”
Watching Harden on the court in warm-ups, his hand didn’t seem to be bothering him.
• When asked about LeBron James — who had to sit out the end of Game 4 with leg crams — Heat coach Erik Spoelstra joked:
“The players will be hydrated.”
• If you are the Miami Heat, it’s tempting to think about what might be and lose track of the job at hand. That’s the kind of thing that keeps Spoelstra up at night.
“Hey, we have a game to play, okay, and what we have to focus on is trying to win this game,” Spoelstra said Thursday night before tip-off. “And that’s the perspective we have to have.”
• If you’re the Oklahoma City Thunder, it’s dangerous to look at the massive task ahead (no team has ever come from 3-1 down to win an NBA finals) and find it overwhelming. That’s the kind of thing that keeps Brooks up at night.
“I just tell the guys we’re not trying to win three games tonight,” Brooks said. “All we’re trying to do is play better for 48 minutes than the Miami Heat, and that’s very possible, and that’s all we’re focusing on.
• Tonight’s fan giveaway is a white towel with the Roman numerals XVI on them — that’s 16, the number of playoff wins it takes to get an NBA title. A number the Heat can reach Thursday.