By Shayden Smith
Ever since the 2012 NBA Finals, the Thunder and Heat have been a marquee matchup, this year being much different from previous years. With no Kevin Durant, James Harden and Serge Ibaka for the Thunder and no LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for the Heat, this first matchup of the season for these two ballclubs was something NBA fans were not used to.
Did this game disappoint? Not if you are a Thunder fan. Oklahoma City came out of the gates hot, taking an 11 point lead after the first quarter. Russell Westbrook had a relatively quiet night scoring only 14 points but ended the night with 11 assists and 5 boards.
The real story for the Thunder was its two big men, Enes Kanter and Domantas Sabonis. Kanter came off the bench, leading the Thunder in scoring with 24 points off 10 of 12 shooting. Not only is Kanter a solid candidate for sixth man of the year, but he also really likes to talk, which gets him into trouble sometimes. Kanter got into a few fights during the game, but later caused the Heat to commit a flagrant 1 foul, so keep talking Kanter.
Sabonis looked the most confident I’ve seen him all year. He was taking shots that were open and even putting the ball on the floor and making a few plays. Sabonis ended the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Sabonis still has a long way to go in his NBA career, but he showed promise tonight as he made an impact for the Thunder.
What about the other guys? How did the Heat do? The Heat shot 36.9 percent from the field and lost the rebounding game by six. Miami didn’t move the ball like they are used to and wasn’t making open shots. Needless to say, the Thunder had a great night and the Heat had a mediocre night.
But what about the return of Oklahoma City’s favorite athlete? OKC legend Dion Waiters returned to his former team, only shooting one of nine from the field with just 2 points. Maybe Waiters wasn’t an amazing player when he played in OKC, but he definitely had better games than his first game against his former teammates.
Thunder prevailed as the better team in a much different looking Finals rematch as they beat the Heat 97 – 85.