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Thunder vs. Heat Preview: Can the Heat Slow the Thunder Down?

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The Heat are wounded and weary, but the Thunder should be wary of a close game.

"How do I usually go from tranquility to violence? I usually take the Ferrari."
"How do I usually go from tranquility to violence? I usually take the Ferrari."
William Bennett Berry

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 Matchup

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 #
@
23-17
(Won 1)

29-12
(Won 2)
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)
Probable Starters
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