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Miami HEAT at Oklahoma City Thunder Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Garrett Ellwood)

The Miami HEAT take on the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road tonight, the team's last game before the All-Star break. The HEAT (35-14) have won six straight games and sit atop the Eastern Conference. The Thunder (39-13) have won their last seven home games. Tip off is set for 8 PM.

1: Are there any statistical extremes from the Christmas Day game that likely won’t repeat themselves tonight in Oklahoma City?

Couper: For starters, Russell Westbrook shot 5-of-19 in that game, and while he’s not likely to shoot so poorly again he is still below 43 percent shooting on the season (and less than 60 percent at the rim, surprisingly). On the other hand, part of what made Miami’s victory so impressive was that they did it making just 8-of-28 (28.6 percent) from downtown. Projecting an outcome based on one happened in a single prior game doesn’t lend itself to the most scientific analysis, but it’s always worth pointing these things out when dealing with teams likely to approach the next matchup with a similar process as the one before.

Danny: Russell Westbrook and Ray Allen each struggled from the field in the first matchup. I wouldn’t expect Westbrook to make only five baskets again. Additionally, both teams struggled a bit from three. That doesn’t mean the teams will shoot lights out, but some improvement is likely. I really didn’t think that Christmas Day game had many anomalies. It was fairly straight forward all the way through. Any incremental improvements will probably be balanced out by a drop off somewhere else on the stat sheet.

2: Now that we’re more than halfway through the season, how is Kevin Martin fitting in?

Couper: Just as you would expect, really. Swapping Martin and Thabo Sefolosha in lineups with the Thunder’s usual starters – these are Oklahoma City’s two most-used five-man units – has a predictable effect on the team: with Sefolosha, the Thunder defend better and score and little worse while with Martin, the Thunder score better and defend worse. Both lineups blow opponents out of the water, as do most lineups featuring Martin. It is interesting that some of the Thunder’s worst, high-usage lineups feature Martin alongside Nick Collison, who was once James Harden’s dependable pick-and-roll mate – an action that was the centerpiece of one of the league’s best bench units.

Danny: I don’t think there was any question that Martin would thrive playing next to Durant and Westbrook. He’s shooting from three has been exceptional, and there’s no doubt the attention defenses focus on the Thunder’s stars has given Martin more open looks than he’s used to. While his shooting can replicate that of James Harden, Martin is still not able to control the offense like Harden did. During the regular season, that’s not much of an issue, but that might change during the playoffs.

3: Does LeBron continue his 30-point, 60-percent shooting streak tonight?

Couper: At this point, why not? It’s not like James is taking different shots or making that many more jumpers – the three-point percentage can’t sustain but he’s still missing mid-range looks – so as long as he keeps getting to the rim and Miami’s defense creates enough live-ball turnovers to get James out in transition, there’s no reason this streak can’t continue. After all, on Christmas Day James had 29 points on 60 percent shooting.

Danny: There’s no point in trying to figure out what LeBron will do next, but I’ll say yes because of all of the looks he’s been getting at the rim. LeBron’s bullying his way to the hole when in the post and blowing by defenders on the perimeter. The Thunder offer strong defenders in Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha, but LeBron’s shown that he can score over or around them. In the Finals, LeBron didn’t shoot particularly well from the midrange, but he was able to get looks in the paint. If he gets those again, I don’t see why 30+ and 60+ is out of reach.

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Another intense game before the All Star break, all we have to do is to score more from treys and don't let OKC folks to have a 3rd double double scorer and by then we'll be fine.

Unleashed your 'A' game Big Three and put more dagger in downtown OKC Mr. Ray!

if we won, Heat by 9.

if we lose, OKC by 17 (because its terribly bad if we're losing on the road).

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I'm looking forward to MIAMI flexing their muscles in this game with RAY ALLEN getting a little of his mojo back. If the BIG 3 cash in a game like they had against Portland and the defense is crisp, it could be a fun game for us HEAT fans....TEAM HEAT since '88!

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Is it wrong to bring your girlfriend out early so you dont miss the game? lol

Uh.....yeah, but I'm sure you're not the only one that's doing that lol.

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Anyways, surprised no one mentioning this yet

UD aint playing

these will be a tough battle for Bosh alone, hoping Birdman and Joel defense is enough cause Ibaka and Perkins arent exactly good at shooting from the post

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Interesting. Varnado is active tonight with Haslem and Pittman inactive.

Bah! I was hoping Pitt would get a few minutes against Mr. Scowl.

So we're looking at the lineup with Battier -- the very one that caused OKC so much trouble in the finals. I thought it would be nice to go away from that as the Thunder may look to implement some things and that would sort of spoil such notions.

Varnado eh? Well that is interesting. It would be funny to have both he and JA on the floor at the same time. Swat City baby!

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