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Game Preview: Heat head west to face Westbrook-less Thunder

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Miami begins a crucial road trip today that could boost or damage their playoff hopes.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat (33-36) take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (42-28) tonight on the second night of a back-to-back set in the first game of their four-game road trip.

Miami catches a break tonight thanks to Russell Westbrook getting called for his 16th technical foul of the season in Saturday’s game against the Golden State Warriors, which triggered an automatic one game suspension. The Thunder still remains a dangerous team with Paul George leading the way, though they have lost two games in a row leading up to tonight’s clash with the Heat. The perennial All-Star scored 43 points to lead the Thunder past the Heat 118-102 in their first match-up of the season on February 1st in Miami.

As for the Heat, they were fully healthy for about a day before Dwyane Wade had to deal with a hip issue and Justise Winslow (thigh bruise) was hobbled in the second half of Friday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. Wade ended up playing yesterday against the Charlotte Hornets but Winslow was replaced in the starting lineup with Derrick Jones Jr. and remains day-to-day.

Game Info

When: Monday, March 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City

TV: Fox Sports Sun

Win Probability: According the FiveThirtyEight the Heat have a 55% chance to win.

Probable Starters

Thunder: Dennis Schroder, Terrance Ferguson, Paul George, Jerami Grant, Steven Adams

Heat: Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, Bam Adebayo

Injury Report

Thunder: Andre Roberson (kneecap) - Out, Westbrook (suspension) - Out

Heat: Winslow (thigh bruise) - Day-to-day

What To Watch For

Will the absence of Westbrook end up freeing George to fully put his stamp on the game or will it hurt the team’s overall chemistry? OKC has gone 5-3 this season when Westbrook hasn’t played.

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