Miami Heat (35-11, 15-9 road) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (36-12, 21-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 110.1 (1st), Heat– 108.7 (2nd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.5 (12th), Heat – 99.8 (4th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.3 (5th), Heat – 91.9 (12th)
View from the enemy: Heat Index
There are regular season games. And then there are regular season games. This one falls into that italicized region. Kevin Durant says it’s just another game. As if we’re supposed to believe that. It’s not that it’s the Heat with LeBron and Wade. It’s that this could be a potential Finals matchup and a first look at how this teams would look opposing each other.
But I see it as a big moment for the Thunder. It’s not an elimination game and you don’t win championships in March, but with the recent so-called slump of the Thunder, this could be not just a return to normal, but a boost the other way. A little something to kick into a big stretch of games against good teams as the Thunder push ahead to hopefully be playing their best ball by the end of April.
It’s not just another game. It only counts for one either way in the win-loss column. But it definitely means just a little bit more. You won’t see me hitting any panic buttons or worrying about the Thunder’s legitimacy if they lose, but it’s hard not to see this as a chance to measure up with where things stand.
Miami coming in: The Heat played on Friday beating the Pistons.
Three Big Things
1. Transition war. Both teams want to run. Both teams want to dunk. Both teams want to get as many easy points as possible. The Miami transition game is to be feared, but in an up and down affair, the Thunder can hold their own. It’s about getting back though and limiting those opportunities. The less Miami scores on the break, the more they have to execute, which is where you want them at.
2. LeBron vs. KD. It’s gonna be awesome. That’s all I need to say.
3. Whose third wheel steps up? Chris Bosh often carries the burden of success on his shoulders for the Heat and James Harden sometimes does it for the Thunder. Maybe it’s those two guys, or maybe it’s corner 3s from Shane Battier or Derek Fisher, but this game isn’t just going to be about the stars. It’s going to be about depth, the benches and who has somebody rise to the occasion.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Oh Boy.