Thunder Can Clinch Playoff Spot With a Win
The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat will meet on Monday at American Airlines Arena. There is plenty at stake for both teams tonight. Tip-off is set for 7:30 pm EST. The game can be seen in regional coverage.
Oddsmakers opened the Thunder as 0-point favorites versus the Heat, while the game’s total opened at 210.5. The Thunder are now 4-point favorites and the total is sitting at 214.
The Thunder can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight over the Heat. The jam-packed West is going to be a free-for-all over the next week. Only three games separates 3rd thru 9th seed. The Thunder can finish anywhere between fourth or eighth in the wild Western Conference.
Failing to make the playoffs is also a reality if the team tanks.
The Heat are already in the playoffs. They are coming off an awful 122-98 loss to the New York Knicks on Friday. Six days before that they had a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in overtime. The Heat are looking to change momentum going into the postseason.
Miami’s opening-round Eastern Conference playoff opponent will be one of these teams. The Toronto Raptors, the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers or the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Thunder Helped Themselves Against Rockets; Heat Need to Close Strong
The Thunder prevailed 108-102 over the host Houston Rockets over the weekend. The Rockets have the best record in the NBA and have clinched home-court advantage. They have not been lying down and been playing for keeps. The Thunder win goes a long way in helping them clinch.
Russell Westbrook and Paul George scored 24 points each. Houston’s 20-game home win streak was snapped with the loss.
A desperate Thunder team will be a major challenge for the Heat. They have muddled through the 2nd half of the season with a 14-15 record. Since February 1 they are playing below-.500 basketball.
The Heat are 2-1 against the Celtics this season. They are 1-2 against the Cavaliers, 2-2 against the 76ers and 1-1 against the Raptors. Miami players feel like they will have a good chance against any of those teams.
They have to close the regular season in a strong fashion.
Heat Have Their Hands Full With Thunder Scorers
The Heat will hope to slow down Westbrook just a little bit. His scoring is down by around six points per game from last season. He still has phenomenal numbers when compared with almost every other player in the league.
He is averaging 25.6 points and 9.8 rebounds. Westbrook is also leading the league with 10.1 assists per game.
Paul George is second on the team with a 21.6 scoring average. Carmelo Anthony is averaging a career-low 16.3 points as he is no longer his team’s primary scoring option. The soon to be 34 year old is adapting well not being the go-to option.
Oklahoma City’s fourth double-figure scorer is center Steven Adams. The underrated player is averaging 13.9 points. He is second on the team in rebounds behind Westbrook with 9.1 boards per game.
Point guard Goran Dragic leads the Heat in scoring at 17.5 ppg. Dragic also leads the team in assists at 4.8. Center Hassan Whiteside leads the team in rebounds with 11.5 a tilt. Whiteside is also blocking 1.7 shots per game. Throw in 14.0 points per game scoring as well.
The Heat has several capable scorers from the wings. The team is led by Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Dwyane Wade and Wayne Ellington. All four score in double figures. Miami has nine double-figure scorers.
Oklahoma City took the last four in the series, including a 105-99 home win on March 23.
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Oklahoma City home to Memphis Wednesday, April 11
Miami home to Toronto Wednesday, April 11
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