OKC at MIA Preview – Another Road Battle for Thunder
MIAMI – Two of the NBA’s best teams will clash on Wednesday night, and as a result, every man that touches the floor will be called upon to make an important contribution.
The Thunder takes on the Miami Heat in its eighth road game against an Eastern Conference opponent so far this season, riding an eight-game winning streak that has included four wins on the road. The key to success for Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club has been relying on its principles on both sides of the ball to execute. Tonight against the Heat, the same objectives hold true – including strong team defense and playing with force on the offensive end.
“We’re going to have to play a good basketball game,” Brooks explained. “We’re going to have to play a defensive basketball game, we’re going to have to make some shots and take care of the basketball. We don’t have to play perfect basketball, but we have to play with perfect effort.”
Two areas of focus in particular will be preventing catastrophic turnovers that lead immediately to fast break points, and containing Miami’s ball-handlers. Led by Kevin Durant and his streak of 11 straight games of 30-or-more points scored, the Thunder knows it can find ways to put the ball in the basket through smooth, crisp offense. Ball-handlers like Durant, Reggie Jackson, Derek Fisher and Jeremy Lamb will have to value the ball and get the Thunder into its offense with precision.
On defense, it will be up to the Thunder to keep LeBron James and Dwyane Wade out of the paint. Most of all, however, the Thunder has to operate its typical game plan at a high level, which will breed success on both ends.
“We just have to play hard,” Durant said. “It’s a regular game, it’s another game for us and we just have to focus on us.”
Fortunately for Brooks and his staff, the Thunder’s roster is built in a way that can suit any style of play. Particularly against a team like Miami, the roster and lineup flexibility and versatility that Brooks has gives him plenty of options to work with as the game progresses. Finding the best matchups and exploiting them could be the difference between a win and a loss in a challenging road test tonight.
“We have a good basketball team, and I have the flexibility of playing them all,” Brooks said. “That’s what is good about our group. We have special players, but we have special role players too. Special players come off the bench.”
In the Notes:
- The Thunder went 0-2 against the Heat last season, and overall is 4-6 against Miami in the regular season.
- The Thunder has won eight straight games and nine of its last ten.
- The Thunder is 14-2 against the Eastern Conference this season, including 7-0 on the road.
6:00 p.m. CT. TV – Fox Sports Oklahoma and ESPN; Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network