The Oklahoma City Thunder couldn’t withstand the Heat in Miami as Jimmy Butler and co. go on to blowout the Thunder 118-90.
Here are eight thoughts I have about OKC’s 28-point loss.
Back & Forth
This game was teetering between a close contest and a Miami blowout until the Heat finally opened the floodgates in the third quarter when the Heat went on a 20-0 run.
Considering who the opponent was, the reigning Eastern Conference champions, I thought the Thunder had a pretty good showing and made this game entertaining until the Heat’s deep roster finally pulled away.
Thunder fans know what legendary things Andrew Wiggins and Klay Thompson did to OKC, so I would suggest adding what Darius Bazley did in Florida to that list.
Bazley has killed it in the state when it comes to his performances. In The Bubble, Bazley shot 30-of-63 (47.6%) from beyond the arc in 15 games. In the last game against Orlando, Bazley scored 19 points and grabbed 12 boards.
And Monday’s game in Miami, Bazley scored 16 points. Bazley has one more game to play in The Sunshine State when the Thunder travel to Tampa Bay to play the Raptors later this season.
Some sections of Thunder fans have clamored for a more aggressive version of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and tonight showed that Shai can score if he made that his top priority as he finished with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting.
Dort Double Digits
Lu Dort was the other player in double figures for OKC as he finished with 12 points. Dort continues to impress as these types of offensive performances are becoming the norm, which is a great sign for the long-term health of the franchise.
No Paint Defense
The Thunder’s biggest weakness is their interior defense. Coming into this game, the Thunder gave up the second-most points in the paint and that ranking should decrease after Monday’s game. Miami recognizes this weakness and made it a point of emphasis to attack the paint all game long, and to their credit, it worked. The Heat scored 52 points in the paint.
The Thunder does not have a big on their roster who can serve as a rim protector. Former center Steven Adams was that guy for seven years and now Thunder fans will notice the value of that this season.
Threes and Layups
It seems like the Heat used this game to get some offensive rhythm going as they finished with 118 points on elite shooting splits of 56.8/47.1/55.6. The Heat was 28th in the league in Team Offensive Rating but that did not show at all tonight.
The Heat was able to get anything they wanted on that end. Miami’s sharpshooters were hot this game as the team went 16-of-34 (47.1%) from beyond the arc. 100 of their 118 points came in the paint and from three-point land.
Specifically, Jimmy Butler had his best offensive game of the season as he finished with 18 points, Butler was averaging 8.3 PPG coming into Monday’s contest.
OKC O struggles
The Heat suffocated the Thunder on defense. Miami gave up a huge volume of threes but the Thunder were not able to cash in on those opportunities as the team shot a hideous 13-of-48 (27.1%) from three as a team.
I love how this team’s offense has taken a more modern approach with the high amount of threes they shoot, but I feel like they need to calm down a bit with the amount they shoot, especially on nights like tonight where the three balls weren’t falling. 60.7% of a team’s shots should not be coming from beyond the arc, especially if they continue to miss.
Darius Miller’s Return
Darius Miller saw his first action of the season Monday in the fourth quarter. Miller has not played since March 2019, so it was nice to see him on the court.
Miller finished with 3 points in seven minutes of action.
Next game: The Thunder take on the Pelicans in New Orleans Wednesday night at 7 p.m, CT.