After losing a tough one last night to the Toronto Raptors the Thunder do not see their schedule get any easier. As the Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat come into OKC on Friday night. The Heat are the current second seed in the East and would be the second seed in the West as well.
No one thought the Heat would make this kind of jump from last year. They have a lot more than just Jimmy Butler though. They have a bunch of young players who are making names for themselves.
One of the biggest surprises this year in the NBA is Kendrick Nunn. He’s a product out of the University of Oakland... in Detroit. He originally was at the U of Illinois, but transferred for one reason or another and made a name for himself in Oakland, which is in Detroit.
Nunn went undrafted in 2018, played for the Warriors Summer League squad and eventually landed on their G-League team. The Heat then poached him in the offseason and with the injuries to both Justise Winslow and Goran Dragic early in the season he has worked himself up to the starting point guard.
He’s averaging 15 and 4 halfway through the year.
He’s a player that can score inside and out. He’s not much a facilitator, he’s a guy that’s going to go for buckets. He’s a great change of pace to Butler. Butler is more methodical where Nunn is like a young Russell Westbrook and is going to get after it fast and hard.
Then there is Tyler Herro who might be considered for Rookie of the Year if Ja Morant did not exist. Herro has proven to be a sharpshooter who can knock down a three from almost anywhere on the court. His defense is pretty suspect, but...
Playing behind the young guys is well... another young guy in Bam Adebayo. Who might be the most exciting young big in the game. He rebounds, he blocks shots, he steals the ball, he switches well on to guards and can play three point line to baseline on the defensive end.
With both Nerlens Noel and Steven Adams questionable or out for the game Friday night he might feast on guys like Mike Muscala or whomever the Thunder throw out there. Bam might feast and the cutters for the Heat might feast if there is no one imposing for the Thunder. Can Kendrick Perkins suit up for one more game?
Where do the Thunder hold an advantage?
Where they hold the advantage is at the guard position. Chris Paul is going to do some shakey stuff to those young guards for the Heat on Friday night. He’s going to pull some nutmegs, hesitations, and more that these kids have never seen. They’ll be playing on their heels most of the night.
I could see a big night from Paul on Friday. Maybe something close to a triple-double? Not sure that he has that in him, but we’ll see. I think we can see a scoring night that is north of 30 though.
The Thunder can not have a slow start like they have in two of their last three games that have cost them victories. The Thunder are the best defensive team in the second half so far this season. They know how to make the second half adjustments.
It’s amazing what type of coach Billy Donovan has become with a younger team and not full of superstars. I’ve been impressed with what Billy has been able to do with this team this year.
So, Friday night in OKC is going to be cold and rainy so you might as well come out to the game. There are good tickets available.
To grab tickets for this game, check out the ticket offerings on StubHub.
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