GAMETHREAD at 7! It's the best game of the season, there's no reason to miss it!
Records: The Oklahoma City Thunder (36-12) vs. The Miami Heat (35-11)
Time: 7:00 PM Central Standard Time
Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
TV: Entertainment Sports Programming Network, Fox Sports Network Oklahoma, Sun Sports
Radio: WWLS The Sports Animal (98.1), 790 AM The Ticket
Enemy Blog(s): Peninsula is Mightier, Hot Hot Hoops
Previous Meeting(s): None!
Let's face it: We all hate the Heat. And I could sit here and write 2,000 words about how this game is the small market team versus the superstars, but everybody and your grandma knows that. I could also talk to you about what Bosh, James, and Wade can do. But I won't, because you already know that too.
Instead, I'm going to tell you how the other 12 members of the Heat could hurt us tonight.
Mario Chalmers: Chalmers was a surprising late round draft sensation who was one of the few contracts remaining on the Heat before James was signed. But his remaining on the roster was well justified, as he's proven himself to be an excellent scorer. He can hit down open shot while the big three draw pressure, and he's really good at hitting a three off the dribble. He's got some decent moves into the post as well. The Thunder will have to be especially careful to not ignore this guy when it matters.
Norris Cole: Cole was another surprising late round selection, but even more surprising is where he came from: Cleveland State, a complete contrast to Chalmers, who came from Kansas. Like Chalmers, Cole is primarily a scoring combo guard, but his skills are more concentrated towards attacking the basket and helping out in transition. The Thunder will have to be careful with him on the perimeter, and I'd hate to see him make mincemeat out of Fisher. If you want to get a better idea of the type of player Cole is, check out the draft profile WTLC did of him before this year's draft.
Below: The Other 10, Prediction!
Udonis Haslem: Aside from Wade, he's the sole hold-out from the Heat's 2006 Championship team. He gets more rebounds than points, but most of his points come from open top of the key jumpers. He's not an amazing rebounder, but an offensive board here or there from him could kill the Thunder.
Mike Miller: He's injured, and he shoots threes.
Shane Battier: He's more offensively limited than Mike Miller, but he is a better defender. He's not a defender who looks for a lot of steals, but he's great at defending off of screens and in the post. He'll provide a nice foil for Harden when the stars are off of the floor.
Ronny Turiaf: You can pretty much dub this guy the 12 minute man. He'll run into the game, give 120%, get a block here or there, and maybe get a few points or rebounds in the post that come his way. He'll also be the Heat's greatest bench cheerleader, giving them a smidgen of likeableness.
Terrel Harris: Now we start venturing into the territory of....who? He played for Oklahoma State, and he basically functions on the Heat as an emergency Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole. He probably won't see the floor.
James Jones: This guy has hung around on the Heat bench for a while, and he's notable for being not really notable. I mean, look at his name. James Jones. He doesn't do much but shoot threes and play decent defense. Since Mike Miller is out, he'll probably see spot minutes.
Joel Anthony: Everybody knows this guy for starting at Center and scoring no points at all. It's not because he's playing on a team of superstars, either. I saw him play for Canada, and he led the team in scoring....with 10 points per game. All he'll pretty much do is dunk the ball on a putback. His defense is pretty darn solid though, both in the post-up sense and in the spot-up sense. He's athletic and lengthy enough to guard mid-range shots, so Perkins won't get any freebies. He's really slow though, so he can easily be slipped past on the perimeter.
Dexter Pittman: His usefulness seemingly ended with the signing of Turiaf, but Pittman is a decent scorer and rebounder, with a mean hook shot. He's also probably got the second coolest name on the Heat, behind Udonis Haslem.
Eddy Curry: After succumbing to the tragic NBA disease known as Big Macs, Curry lost weight and signed with the Heat. He plays in very small minutes if at all, and he usually doesn't contribute much.
Juwan Howard: Yes, Juwan Howard and his 2-Dimensional Beard/Hair Combo are still in the NBA. He's in the running for the NBA's oldest man award at 39 years of age. He doesn't play much, but he's good at rebounding, turning the ball over, and throwing up bricks.
Mickell Gladness: Sadly, the ten day contract of Mickell Gladness was not renewed, and he is no longer with the team. Suffice it to say, he was easily the Heat's best player, with the athleticism of Jordan, the dead-eye shooting of Chris Mullin, the ballhandling of Pistol Pete Maravich, the assists of John Stockton, the shot blocking of Dikembe Mutombo, and the rebounding of Charles Barkley. He also once played for a team called Matrixx Magix Nijmegen.
Anyway, you know the rest. Playoff atmosphere. Tough game. National TV. All that jazz. Only one thing remains....
BRING THE HOUSE DOWN TONIGHT! GO THUNDER!
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder 106, Miami Heat 105