The Miami Heat earned a tough road win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. It was harder than it should have been because of Miami’s own lackadaisical tendencies when they built a significant lead, but a victory they needed nonetheless.
Defeating a Thunder squad on an evening they shot the ball well from deep was essential with an upcoming second night of a back-to-back game in Houston in the middle of a soft stretch of their schedule as they attempt to rise in the Eastern Conference standings.
Playing without Jimmy Butler, it was Tyler Herro who led the way with a season-high 35 points capped off by another game-winner against a Western Conference opponent. The former Wildcat knocked in a career-high 9 three-pointers, and Miami as a team converted 24, including a franchise-setting 16 in the first half.
But OKC rallied in the third period and had momentum going their way in the last minutes of the final frame. A late Miami fightback, predicated on opportunistic offense and classic hard-nosed defense, allowed the more experienced Heat to leave the arena with the win and a 14-15 record.
Here’s how the final possessions went down:
Let's take a look at down-the-stretch plays that helped Miami beat OKC— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) December 15, 2022
Heat finally go man after spending most of night in zone (eek). Great help D by Herro to block SGA, who was cooking. But lands with Giddey, a 32% 3-PT shooter
Herro puts his hand up just .5 sec too late pic.twitter.com/8MJkZFJUP6
It's 106-101, OKC. Feeling of "here we go again" for the Heat— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) December 15, 2022
Dort gets a step on Caleb, but blows a makable shot at the rim (OKC was 18/30)
Miami has a 3v3 on the break. Indy Oladipo (12-4-3-3, +18 in 31 mins) shows up for the clutch bucket off an acrobatic finish. pic.twitter.com/Ah7Xe5pKNO
Great work by Vic & Caleb to stay in front of their assignments— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) December 15, 2022
Kyle-Bam PNR. Giddey comes to help from corner. Lowry finds a space to get a good angle on a pass, creating a 3v1. Chooses the hot shooter, Herro, who ties the contest. Too much ball watching for OKC. pic.twitter.com/F5yb1DBHij
SGA-Giddey PNR leads to a Caleb-Kyle switch, but Martin plays off Josh because Bam comes to tag from the weakside corner. As he recovers, SGA thinks he has a pass to Giddey (should have faked & passed to the corner)— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) December 15, 2022
Incredible Caleb steal + Vic finish in transition. pic.twitter.com/oxYFCiH27i
Not a good Bam sequence— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) December 15, 2022
Heat win a challenge but the shot they get is Kyle taking a pull-up off zero movement. Bam should have asked for the ball vs SGA in the paint + with spacers.
He then helps on SGA's drive but with his arms down & reaching, fouling him out of the game. pic.twitter.com/Nvn27yDAlc
Tied. Bam's out. Feels like Heat need to win in regulation, especially with a b2b. Jimmy gives Herro (a season-high 35 points) some advice— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) December 15, 2022
Elevator to get Herro free. He dribbles it down. Gets Wiggins on the switch. Gets to his preferred nail spot. Game.https://t.co/fNzi889hCB
One more stop is needed. Caleb isn't guarding the passer. Heat are switching actions. SGA gets some steps on Dipo who trusts Caleb to make a contest, which he does well. Giddey gets the board but Dedmon makes a contest. Miami wins. pic.twitter.com/QMqDkAJNyw— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) December 15, 2022
Aside from Herro, Victor Oladipo also deserves praise for how he performed. It was clearly his best outing of the season which came in handy as Miami was without its best player.
Duncan Robinson, back in the rotation, had his moments as well, finishing with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from deep. He, Dewayne Dedmon, and Haywood Highsmith all registered a +14 when they were on the court, while all the starters with the exception of Herro had a negative point differential.
It was one of those rare times where the statistics show that the bench aided the starters as opposed to the other way around.
It’s unclear yet who Miami will line-up in Houston. Bam Adebayo, hounded by foul trouble, turnovers, and a hobbled knee, didn’t have an overall great performance. Perhaps the rest could help him out. It’s wise to guess Oladipo, recently returned from his own knee issue, will also sit out. Maybe Kyle Lowry would too for maintenance.
It’s been a roller-coaster ride for Miami, who isn’t out of the woods at all. But victories such as the one they pulled off in OKC can help in getting them to a grounded position.