Where There's Smoke, There's Fire: Heat's Hold On OKC Just Got Tighter

Wednesday, December 26th 2012, 6:48 pm
By: News 9

Not even a white Christmas could keep Thunder fans from feeling blue.

The Heat was turned up in Miami and OKC got burned once again; dropping its fifth straight game to LeBron and Co. dating back to last season's NBA Finals.

The new-look Thunder's first game against Miami with Kevin Martin looked eerily similar to their last four with James Harden: close, but just not enough in the arsenal.

Kevin Durant overcame a foul-ridden, sloppy start to put on a one-man scoring clinic in the second half.

Russell Westbrook was aggressive, impressive, yet out-of-control, shooting 26 percent with five turnovers and just three assists.

With the exception of Nick Collison, who played well, the role-players were nowhere to be found. Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Reggie Jackson combined for 67 minutes and seven points on 2-8 shooting.

And while Kevin Martin played efficiently (4-10, 15 points), he was hesitant to pull the trigger in key moments.

The Heat was also in familiar form: the big three dominated while Miami got a large contribution from a random role-player (this time it was Mario Chalmers' 20).

The truth is, nothing in this game came as a serious surprise, and that's OKC's problem. The Heat has their number, and doesn't look willing to let go.

Everything changed for Miami during game six of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, when LeBron's 45 points and 15 rebounds signaled a coming-of-age for the King. The Heat has had a different attitude ever since, turning from a squad that couldn't get over the hump to a team that knows it's better than everyone else.

The Thunder has taken over the former of those two roles, and must mature as a team until it can reach the latter.

Knowing you can beat someone is more valuable than words can describe. OKC isn't worried about the Lakers or Spurs or Grizzlies or Clippers. While all of those teams are talented and could pose a problem, the Thunder knows they've beat ‘em before and can beat ‘em again.

There's one team still standing in the Thunder's path, and that roadblock only got bigger on Christmas Day.