By Connor MacKenzie @grandepadre94
Things got heated in Miami and The Thunder put the Heat in a Miami Vice (ok im done).
The Thunder come away with an impressive victory on the road 118-102 against the Heat and improve to now a league leading 7th win in a row. It was a sheer dominant performance, particularly from Paul George who erupted for 43 points on 14-23 shooting and 10-16 from deep (career and franchise record). George was seemingly on the court by himself shooting the ball. He continues a strong, consistent MVP push as we near the All Star Break, where he will be a coveted pick in this year’s All Star Draft.
The Thunder pushed to a 31-24 lead at the end of the first and dropped 41 points in the second to lead 72-53. They shot 49 percent from the field and a scorching 53 percent from behind the arc. Oklahoma City continues to shoot at an astounding clip from deep, after receiving much criticism for being a poor shooting team early in the season. What’s more impressive is the heightened defense of the Thunder, playing a full 4 quarters of defense and limiting Miami to 44 percent shooting and an ice cold 30 percent from deep.
To say in his 11th year that Russell Westbrook continues to develop and impress is mind boggling. His leadership on/off the court is unmatched. He competes the same way whether up 20 or down 20: Hard. He is relentless, yet he is much more decisive as his career continues. He is more patient and increasingly methodical in his approach. Whether its Adams, George, or Ferguson that has the hot hand, Russ finds a way to make a play for them. In drawn up plays for tight games, the ball finds a way to Paul George’s hands. Russ has recognized the season PG is having, and looks for ways to facilitate. He still attacks any rim or anybody, a dominant post-up guard and that elbow bank shot is still as pretty as ever. While he may struggle shooting on occasion, he impacts so many facets of the game, it can often get wiped away. Never change Russ, never change.
In a battle of the bigs, Steven Adams imposed his will for 13 points and 7 boards while holding Hassan Whiteside to 12 points and 5 turnovers. Adams’ presence and involvement in Thunder success cannot be overstated. He is a work force and lays down his body every night so that his team can maximize their efficiency. Adams is surely glad a break is coming up soon.
Dennis Schroder ignites again with 28 points on a scintillating 11-13 shooting (4-6 from 3). The bench has begun to come to life more in this win streak as they contributed 40 points to the contest.
The Thunder defense was sensational again tonight as they allow 28 assists but force 17 turnovers. To be successful in this league, you’ve got to maximize possessions, and the Thunder are one of the best on both sides of the ball. Top 2 defensive rating along with top 15 offensive rating is a great recipe for success on the road and against stiffer competition in the league.
While this winning streak is nice, the Thunder have a end to this road trip as they face a surging Celtics team on Super Bowl Sunday, a team they blew a large lead to in the fourth game of the season. Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook will be a great duel as usual. Irving has often been the closer and dagger against Oklahoma City, so this one will surely be no different.