Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
Coverage: FS OK, Sun Sports
It's unfortunate that these two teams aren't playing at full capacity. But, the game must go on with what you have and it's been great to see both the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat provide no excuses for what they don't have, but instead push on with what they do have. That push has both of these teams heading towards the playoffs.
Battle of the guards. The youth and explosion of Russell Westbrook vs the experience and craftiness of Dwyane Wade.
The Thunder are on a two game winning streak, including an impressive 123-115 victory over Atlanta. Miami is on a three game win streak with victories over LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers and then the Portland Trail Blazers.
Oklahoma City got the news before it's Atlanta match up that Kevin Durant will be out indefinitely due to his injuries. Serge Ibaka, who just received knee injury, and Ernes Kanter, who is nursing a sprained ankle will both most likely be out as well. With all these limitations, Russell Westbrook continues to push for MVP, averaging almost a triple-double (32.4 points, 10.4 assists, 9.3 rebounds) over the past 21 games.
For the Heat, Josh McRoberts is traveling with the team but likely won't be playing for the team in the near future and Chris Bosh is still out for the season.
The backcourt duo of Wade of Goran Dragic is averaging nearly 40 points a game.
|Hassan Whiteside||C||Nick Collison|
|Udonis Haslem||PF||Steve Adams|
|Luol Deng||SF||Andre Robinson|
|Dwyane Wade||SG||Dion Waiters|
|Goran Dragic||PG||Russell Westbrook|
What to watch for:
1) The home crowd. The Thunder home crowd is just like the 12th man in Seattle. OKC is 18-2 since December 26th at home. Miami can't fold to the noise.
2) Hassan Whiteside - Okc will be offering a front line of Steve Adams, Nick Collison, and no one else. It is important that Miami establish a game around Whiteside early.
3) Russell Westbrook. - Norris Cole is no longer in Miami so you can't simply throw speed at Westbrook. Team defense to limit his initial explosion is key.