Maybe you thought a matchup between 2-3 teams would be somewhat even-handed, but the Miami Heat are not your rank and file team checking in at 2-3.
The Heat, last season’s Eastern Conference champions, stumbled out of the blocks due to a lack of rebounding (40.2 per game -- dead last in the NBA entering Monday), carelessness with the basketball (18.4 turnovers -- dead last in the NBA entering Monday) and a Jimmy Butler hampered by an ankle injury.
The stiff ankle caused Butler to miss two of the Heat’s first five games. Butler also had a forgettable 0-for-6 shooting performance Friday in Miami’s loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
The earliest sign the Thunder would be in a world of trouble? Jimmy Butler scoring back-to-back buckets to start the game.
Miami turned on the jet skis and handed Oklahoma City its first road loss of the season in a 118-90 win on Monday night.
First Takeaway: The Topsy-Turvy Third
Oklahoma City got a quick six points to end the first quarter in a 26-26 tie, but the third quarter deserves a deeper dive.
The Thunder trailed by 14 at halftime, but it began gradually chipping away at the deficit to start the second half.
OKC made four of its first six 3-pointers to start the third, which cut Miami’s lead to 67-63, but that was the last time the Thunder had a pulse during Monday’s game.
The Heat ripped a 10-0 run and, before the Thunder could turn around, OKC was down 25 heading into the final period.
Where did it all go wrong? Well, Miami can still shoot the heck out of the ball, but that’s not all.
Darius Bazley was again fantastic in all facets of the game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looked more comfortable and was more efficient on the offensive end (18 points on 7-for-15 shooting), but the team won’t do anything of consequence when its two veterans can’t get it going.
Al Horford and George Hill combined to miss nine of 11 shots and scoring a grand total of five points.
Second Takeaway: Shooting Your Shot
Duncan Robinson’s rise from NCAA Division III college player to Michigan Wolverine to one of the most feared marksmen in the NBA continues to be a wild story.
Robinson has never needed a lot of airspace to get a shot up from deep. The Thunder learned that the hard way in the second quarter when Robinson hit three of Miami’s seven 3-pointers in the second quarter.
Trying to find a spark, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra trotted out his sixth different starting lineup in six games when he added Kelly Olynyk to his starting five on Monday.
It appears the Heat found that spark with Olynyk, who bagged five made 3-pointers of his own.
This is why it’d be a mistake to underestimate the Miami Heat’s chances to return to the Eastern Conference Finals or even the NBA Finals in 2021.
When their shooters are hitting from deep, Bam Adebayo owns the paint and Jimmy Butler is healthy, the Heat are tough to beat.
Third Takeaway: The Good Kind Of Vice
What started as a TV drama decades ago has evolved into one of the most popular marketing gimmicks in the NBA.
The Miami Heat debuted their ViceVersa City Edition jerseys against OKC on Monday. The jerseys are derived from the title credits’ color scheme on the popular Miami Vice TV show which ran from 1984 to 1990.
Here’s a look at Miami’s jerseys, which the Heat are expected to don 10 more times through the first half of the NBA season.
The gimmick wouldn’t be complete without the American Airlines Arena matching the jerseys, would it?
Look. All of this, all of it, is just gorgeous.
If I were the jersey-buying-and-wearing type, which I no longer am, the Miami Heat’s online team shop would already have my credit card information.
If every NBA club’s marketing team is to sell a concept for its City Edition jerseys to drum up interest and intrigue, then Miami’s marketing team has done its job.