OKC Thunder (21-5, 7-3 road) vs. Miami Heat (18-6, 13-2 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 113.1 (1st), Heat– 111.6 (3rd)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.6 (10th), Heat – 105.0 (13th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.1 (13th), Heat – 92.4 (9th)
View from the enemy: Heat Index
The last time the Thunder played on this floor, well, you know what happened the last time the Thunder played on this floor. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden defiantly stood together with a very “never again” kind of look. Unfortunately, one of those guys has been removed from the equation, but that doesn’t remove the feeling of regret and remorse for what happened in June.
You simply can’t erase something like confetti falling on your head as your opponent celebrates a championship. It changes you. And so far, the Thunder are better because of it.
Revenge in the regular season really means very little. I honestly don’t think you can get anyone back, unless it’s in the postseason. Winning today doesn’t change anything that happened in the Finals. It doesn’t mean the Thunder won Game 6. But it sure would feel better than losing.
Especially with the Thunder coming off a loss in a game that feels like it happened two months ago.
The Thunder have always been a tremendous bounce-back team, but most of the time, they aren’t bouncing back against a team like the Heat. On the road, too.
It’s a major challenge for the Thunder in front of everyone in what’s being dubbed the game of the year. It has the hype. Will it live up to it?
Miami coming in: The Heat topped the Jazz on Saturday.
Three Big Things
1. LeBron and KD. The two best players in basketball going head to head. Obviously Shane Battier will check KD a fair amount and Thabo will have some time on LeBron. But mostly, it’s going to be these two head to head. What a present.
2. Russell Westbrook. He’s really the X-factor for OKC. The Heat don’t have anyone that really can guard him. They don’t have anyone to stay with him athletically. But Westbrook has to control himself, stay within the offense, play his game and avoid trying to avenge the Finals all on his own.
3. Perimeter Dee. The Heat punished OKC with their small lineup in the Finals, so we’ll see how much the Thunder and Scott Brooks learned from that. The Thunder have adjusted their offensive style some to play a little more Heat-ish, involving other pieces. But defensively, can Serge Ibaka defend the 3? Can Perk be effective guarding Chris Bosh? And if he’s not, will Scott Brooks stubbornly stick with him until the bitter end?
Tip at 4:30 CT. Go Merry Thunder.