Miami Heat Host OKC Thunder in Potential NBA Finals Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat
American Airlines Arena – Miami, Florida
Wednesday, April 4, 2012, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Miami -3
Current Line: Miami -2 1/2
Opening Total: 197
Current Total: 196 1/2
Opening Money Line: Heat -150 / Thunder +130
Current Money Line: Heat -140 / Thunder +120

The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder meet for the second time in two weeks Wednesday night. Miami is a slight favorite at home.

This game between the Thunder and Heat could be a potential NBA Finals preview. It also features the two most likely MVP candidates with the Heat’s LeBron James and the Thunder’s Kevin Durant. The 40-13 Thunder, coached by Scott Brooks, had won 6 games in a row before a 94-88 home loss to Memphis Monday night. The winning streak including convincing victories over the Heat Lakers, and Bulls. The Thunder are currently the #1 seed in the Western Conference.

The 38-14 Miami Heat, coached by Eric Spoelstra, are the #2 seed in the East right now, and leading the Southeast Division. The Heat have gone 3-3 in their last 6 games including a 103-87 loss at Oklahoma City 10 days ago. Miami beat Philadelphia 99-93 at home last night. The Heat are 22-2 at home. Miami guard Dwayne Wade is a game time decision with a knee injury. Wade missed the win against the 76ers for precautionary reasons.

Oklahoma City has beaten Miami 4 of the last 5 times they have played, including the last 2 in Miami both by double digits. In the game on March 25th between the teams, the Thunder dominated from start to finish in all facets of the game.

The Thunder are outscoring opponents 103-97 this season. OKC is #2 in scoring in the league. The Thunder are shooting 47.8% from the field and 35.7% from 3 point range. Oklahoma City is #2 in field goal percentage as well. The Thunder lead the league in free throw percentage making 79.7% at the stripe. OKC is #7 in rebounding averaging 43.4 a game with a rebounding margin of +2.4 a game. The Thunder average 18.5 assists, 16.3 turnovers, 7.6 steals, and 7.9 blocks a game. OKC opponents are shooting 42.7% from the field and 34.1% from 3 point range. The Thunder are #3 in opponents’ field goal percentage. Oklahoma City forces 14.3 turnovers a game.

OKC forward Kevin Durant averages 27.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 steals, and 1.1 blocks a game. Durant is second in the league in scoring behind Kobe Bryant, and leads the Thunder in rebounding. Point guard Russell Westbrook averages 24.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 1.7 steals a game. He leads the team in assists and steals. James Harden averages 16.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.8 assists a game. Serge Ibaka averages 9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks a game to lead the NBA. Shooting guard Daequan Cook is probable with a knee injury Wednesday night. Guard Eric Maynor is out for te season with a knee injury.

Miami is outscoring opponents 101-94 this season. The Heat are #4 in scoring and #7 in points allowed. The Heat are shooting 47.8% from the field and 37.1% from 3 point range. Miami leads the league in field goal percentage and is #5 in 3 point percentage. The Heat are #8 in free throw percentage making 77.5% from the line. Miami averages 41.8 rebounds a game with a rebounding margin of +1.8. The Heat averages 20.7 assists, 15 turnovers, 9.1 steals, and 5.4 blocks a game. Miami opponents are shooting 43% from the field and 37.1% from 3 point range. The Heat are #6 in field goal percentage but are the second worst against the 3 point shot. Miami forces 16.9 turnovers a game.

Miami forward LeBron James averages 26.7 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.9 steals a game. He is third in the NBA in scoring, and leads the Heat in assists, rebounds, and steals. Wade averages 22.8 points, 5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.4 blocks a game to lead the team. Chris Bosh averages 18 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists a game. Point guard Mario Chalmers averages 10 points, 2.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 steals a game. Mike Miller is also questionable with an ankle injury.

Miami is 25-27 ATS this season and the total is 23-27-2. Oklahoma City is  30-23 ATS and the total is 26-27 this season. The Thunder have covered the last 7 games in Miami and the over is 10-4 in the last 14 overall. The Thunder are 4-0 ATS in Wednesday games, 4-1 against teams with winning records, and overall, 22-7 after failing to cover, 20-7-1 against Southeast teams, 19-7 against Eastern Conference teams, 5-2 in road games, after 1 day rest, and in road games against teams with winning home records, and 55-24-1 after a straight up loss. The Heat are 11-5 ATS at home against teams with winning road records, 3-7 after a straight up win, 1-4 against teams with winning records, against Western Conference teams, against Northwest Division teams, and in back-to-backs, 1-6 as a favorite of 4.5 points or less, and 0-6 in Wednesday games.

Miami almost seems a little complacent right now, almost like they they are just waiting for the playoffs to start. Oklahoma City on the other hand is playing some of their best basketball of the season. They have owned Miami recently, but I think the Heat need this game more. Miami wins a close game even if Wade doesn’t play.  Miami is actually 9-1 without Wade this season.

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