Tip-Off: 6:30 PM CST
Location: AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami, FL)
Television: FSOK, NBA TV
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
C Hassan Whiteside is the only true potential All-Star on a weak Miami roster. Whiteside is currently averaging 18.0 points, 14.9 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. Steven Adams has fared well against some of the top bigs in the league, including his first matchup of the season against the Heat on November 7th. In that game in Oklahoma City, Whiteside only managed 5 points on 2/8 shooting, but he did have 12 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Thunder big men have played extremely well as of late, and if they can contain Whiteside down low, their streak of success will continue.
Keys to the Game
- Strong Bench Play: During Oklahoma City’s current three-game win streak, the second unit has averaged 46.3 points per game, a full ten points more than they average on the season. In those three games, Enes Kanter has averaged 18.0 points and Alex Abrines has averaged 10.3 points. Kanter led all scorers with 24 points in the first game against the Heat, and he will be primed and ready for another big night.
- Force Tough Shots: Miami is not a great team offensively, and they do not have a big-time scorer that they can rely on to shoot them into contention to win games. Goran Dragic leads the Heat with 19.3 points per game, and Hassan Whiteside can be deadly in the paint, but when forced into tough shots, it can be a challenge for the Heat to be competitive. When the Heat came to Oklahoma City earlier in the season, Miami had one of their worst shooting games of their season making only 36.9% of their shots from the field 23.5% from three. The Thunder need to play intense defense and manipulate the Heat into beating themselves with poor shot selection.
- Take Over Early: In the first matchup between the Thunder and the Heat, Oklahoma City had effectively won the game by the end of the 3rd quarter as they carried a 22-point lead into the final 12 minutes of regulation. The Thunder has been especially impressive in the fourth quarter this season, and over the last three games, they have averaged almost 30 points in the final period of regulation. As long as Oklahoma City can take care of business early, they are almost sure to finish the game strongly and come away with a win.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.