The Miami Heat have been doing their best to take full advantage of their five-game home stand.
The Oklahoma City Thunder is trying to do something they haven't done since March 28th, 2007—win three games on the road. That date goes back to the franchise still being in Seattle.
Tonight, when the Thunder take the court in Miami, they could very well cause a lot of frustration to the Heat. Looking at the starting five, I can see the Thunder taking this game.
Now as bias as that sounds, look at the matchups before you call me an idiot. The Thunder has the players to counter their star studded line-up.
Let's take a look.
Russell Westbrook vs. Mario Chalmers:
Chalmers is coming off a shoulder injury in Saturday's game and was unable to practice on Monday. Chalmers might be a little timid to start the game afraid to test his shoulder. Chalmers still is not near as fast as Westbrook and could have a tough time keeping up with him the entire game. I expect Westbrook to run circles around Chalmers.
Chalmers hasn't had a 10+ assist game all season. Also, he's averaging only 8.4 points per game. Although, Chalmers could have an easier time scoring then he thinks, on account Westbrook plays very lazy defense. It will be fun to watch to see whether or not the Thunder defense will be able to lock up any pass attempts to Wade and make Chalmers win the game.
My pick: Russell Westbrook
Thabo Sefolosha vs. Dwyane Wade:
This is the matchup I'm sure everyone is most excited to see. A star player who can score almost at will versus one of the most talented defenders in the league. Wade can get to the basket just about better then anyone. His footwork is amazing.
Plus, Wade is just clutch. He wins games. Plus, the game is in "his house."
On the flip side, Sefolosha is the biggest rising defender in the NBA. He will put pressure on every shot that Wade attempts. He'll even give looks Wade hasn't seen all year and make Wade do things he does not want to do. He has frustrated players all year including former MVP Kobe Bryant.
I expect Sefolosha to play with extra motivation tonight and keep Wade on his heals. Wade will still get his numbers, but he will be contained. Look for this matchup tonight.
My pick: Dwyane Wade
Kevin Durant vs. Quentin Richardson:
Quentin Richardson is playing about as inconsistent as the Thunder's offense. He went scoreless two straight games while getting over 32 minutes a game. He has averaged six rebounds, one assist, zero blocks, and nine points a game. His size will be suspect tonight as he goes up against one of the longest players in the league.
Kevin Durant will be looking to ride his scoring wave against the Heat tonight. He is averaging 28.1 points and is getting more consistent with his shot. Richardson will have a tough time guarding him all game and will be almost impossible to contest Durant when he shoots. This one is a no-brainer.
My pick: Kevin Durant
Jeff Green vs. Michael Beasley:
This one is tough. It all completely depends on which player shows up tonight. Beasley is being just as inconsistent as Green scoring wise, and has been making crucial mistakes in the fourth quarter resulting in him benched late in games. His defense is very average and has always needed to improve his perimeter defense dating back to his days at Kansas State.
Although, he has earned playing time as of late. Which is a bad sign for the Thunder, meaning he is making smarter choices and his coach is letting him play.
Jeff Green on the other hand, you never know what your going to get. It all depends if he finds his stroke early in the game. When he does he's averaged 20 points a game. Although when he's having a tough night shooting, he has to look to drive to the basket and hope to get a trip to the foul line.
However, Green has played better defense this season and has been quick enough to guard anyone he's matched up against. Whoever has the better game out of these two could very well decide the game.
I have no other choice to go by the better defender in this matchup.
My pick: Toss-up
Nanad Krstic vs. Jermaine O'Neal:
Again, another toss up. Jermaine O'Neal, statistically, has done well every other game. He has gone from four points in one game, to 18 the next. He has averaged well over 30 minutes of play and has been frustrated by his play.
However, he has been out since Nov. 12th with a hip injury and will look to shake off the rust tonight against the Thunder. I expect him to not have a great game and be frustrated with the Thunder's improved defense.
Krstic's game all depends on whether he can hit that mid-range jumper. If he can, Westbrook's speed towards when he drives will cause Krstic to have enough space to shoot all night.
Although if he doesn't, his defensive game is not good enough to make up for it. However, he has shot great in the games that matter this season.
My pick: Nanad Krstic