Where They At: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder picked up another win against Minnesota, adding to an uneven but great run of winning. They’re 12-3 over the last 15, with a better net rating than everyone but the Spurs. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are working brilliantly together, and some uptick in performance and better rotations have the rest of the team looking a lot better.
Where They At: Miami Heat
The Heat have been inconsistent, hovering closer to the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race than the top, dropping four of six and playing .500 ball over their last 28 games. They’re dealing with a slew of injuries, including a shoulder injury calf strain that will hold Goran Dragic out beyond this game and a shoulder injury that has Dwyane Wade questionable for the game. They’ve tailed off on defense after a dominant start to the season, and the team is still better on that end when Hassan Whiteside sits, despite his gaudy block totals.
The Heat are a shell of themselves at the moment, much worse than when they scraped out a 2-point win against the Thunder in December. If Wade is out, it’s over, but if he plays they still have a shot. Why? The Heat haven’t been great on defense, but they still slow the game down and make their opponents play with discipline. That’s what happened in the first matchup, when they could only hold the Thunder to a 102.4 offensive rating, but did keep them to just 95 points on the night.
If the Thunder can’t run away with a big lead, we’ll get another chance to evaluate their late-game execution against a quality foe.
Prediction: Thunder 103 Heat 92
|2015-16 NBA Season Game #|
|January 17h, 2015|
|Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City|
|6 PM Central Standard Time|
|TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma, Fox Sports SUN, NBA League Pass|
|Injury Report: Goran Dragic (Out), Chris Anderson (Out), Josh McRoberts (Doubtful), Dwyane Wade (Questionable)|
|This Season's Matchups: Dec. 3 (L 95-97)|
|Beno Udrih||PG||Russell Westbrook|
|Gerald Green||SG||Andre Roberson|
|Luol Deng||SF||Kevin Durant|
|Chris Bosh||PF||Serge Ibaka|
|Hassan Whiteside||C||Steven Adams|