Oklahoma City continues its two game road trip tonight as the Thunder take on the Heat in South Beach. After a close loss on Monday to the Hawks, the Thunder (11-7) will look to get back on track against a very good Miami (10-6) team. The game will tip at 6 p.m. on TNT as the first game of a double-header.
Here are a few things to know about tonight’s primetime matchup:
Which bench unit will we see?
Oklahoma City’s bench has been a positive for most of the season with offensive weapons such as Enes Kanter, Dion Waiters and Anthony Morrow providing a scoring punch, but against the Hawks the OKC bench only contributed 19 points on 7-of-31 shooting.
The Thunder are at their best whenever the bench is thriving and can get buckets while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook get much needed rest. In fact, OKC is 11-1 when their bench outscores the opponents bench.
Monday’s performance most likely won’t be a normal thing, but Billy Donovan will need to sure up the rotation so he doesn’t feel pressured to over-play his superstars.
Miami brings the Heat on defense
The Heat rank second in the NBA in opponent points per game by only allowing an average of 92.5 points. They lead the league in opponent field goal percentage (.408), while center Hassan Whiteside is first in the NBA in blocks with 4.69 per game and fifth in the league in rebounds with an 11.2 average.
It’ll be interesting to see how quickly Donovan will go to the bench to insert Kanter and Morrow for Andre Roberson and Steven Adams if the Thunder are having trouble scoring against the Heat.
This game is a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals when the Heat defeated the Thunder in five games. Both rosters look very different than they did then, especially since a guy named LeBron James no longer plays for Miami.
Regardless of the different faces, both Durant and Westbrook remember that series vividly, so don’t be surprised to see either one of them have a big game.