As I watched this game, I wondered to myself. Were we playing the heralded Miami Heat, or were we playing some struggling Eastern Conference team? Because I never really felt threatened by the Heat's so-called talent. The only time the Heat led was when the score was 6-4, and they couldn't complete a huge second quarter run, falling flat in the third.
Does this mean the Thunder are an elite team now, or were the Heat just having a bit of a dip in performance? To be fair, it was a combination of both. As much as I'd just like to give the Thunder credit for playing extremely excellent defense and getting out in transition, the Heat weren't playing very well themselves. Every single member of the big three had a sub-par game, and the Heat's role players didn't help out a lot.
But on the Thunder's side of things, Kendrick Perkins didn't win this game. He did destroy the soft Bosh and the Heat's collection of old men on the boards and such, and did a nice job of creating space in the paint. But the big three shot 37.6% and were especially terrible from the perimeter. In all fairness, the great defense of Sefolosha and Westbrook had just as much to do with the win.
The game itself was a lot of fun to watch though, especially in the early going. Dunk after dunk happened in succession as if it was a highlight reel, with a few threes mixed in. Every time someone tried to to a layup, it was blocked or they would be fouled. This was a game for the highlight reels, not for the fundamentals. But, as with any game like this one, at the end of the game, the Heat became really painful to watch. Chris Bosh was missing jumpers that he normally sinks like butter, the Heat committed terrible turnovers, and they only scored on the free throw line.
Below: The Game Boiled Down to Semantics, Future Analysis, Highlights, Awards!
When boiled down to semantics, this game can be understood by even the simplest of fans. The Heat are a circus of talent, but heavily rely on three players to perform like superstars every night. With them usurping all of the touches, it rarely leaves room for role players to pick up any of their slack. So if they're not performing up to par, they become a terrible team, because they are the team. The Thunder, meanwhile, rely a lot on Durant and Westbrook, but there's other options to look to in terms of scoring, and their excellent defense can keep them in any game. I know, I'm sounding like a huge homer right now. But that's why I'm a fan of the Thunder, and not the Heat. Don't get me wrong, the Heat are the leagues best team when playing on all cylinders. But the Thunder will hardly ever play like the league's worst team.
Moving forward, this win puts the Thunder three and a half games ahead of Denver in the race for the Northwest Division lead, and it puts them 4.5 games behind the Mavericks and Lakers for the second seed in the West. While that might seem like eons away, with 15 games left on the schedule, the spot is reachable, though the odds are in our favour. The Heat drop to three games back of Boston and Chicago in the race for the Eastern Conference title, and hold a 3.5 game lead over the Orlando Magic in the race for the Atlantic Division title. The Thunder have tied the season series with the Heat, 1-1.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, 29 Points, 7 Rebounds, 6 Assists, 1 Steal, 1 Block
Thunder Down Under: Nick Collison, 4 Points, 5 Rebounds, 4 Assists, 1 Steal
Thunder Blunder: James Harden, for his 2-8 three point shooting.
Thunder Plunderer: The Free Throw Line, which provided a quarter of the Heat's points.
Next Game: Versus the Charlotte Bobcats, Friday, March 18th, 7 PM Central Standard Time.