Thunder Faces Heat in Must WinBy James F.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will face the Miami Heat in a game they really have to win. Do they need to win for playoff position. No. But it would not hurt if they did. This is especially true with the Los Angeles Clippers heating up again. No. The Thunder needs to beat the Heat for their own self image.
Miami has beaten the Thunder five games in a row. Tonight’s game is at home in Oklahoma City. If the Thunder and Heat meet again in The Finals this year, and many think they will, tonight is their last chance to avoid going into the series on a six game losing streak against the Heat. And if the most recent game is a loss at home, that will just be adding insult to injury.
If they do meet in The Finals again, the series likely will start in OKC. It would help if the Thunder went into that series remembering they beat the Heat there right before the All-Star Break. Miami doesn’t need any more confidence. They are the defending champs and they beat the Thunder in five just last year. They will be fine even if they lose this game.
Kevin Durant needs this game too. Right now, Lebron James is getting all the accolades. People are even bringing him up in the same sentence with Michael Jordan as “Greatest of All-Time”. That is a lot of pressure for Durant. He is the guy who will have to take on Lebron in The Finals. He will have to match James shot for shot at crunch time. He will be the one who will take the blame if the Thunder loses again. A big game tonight would do a world of good for his confidence.
If the Heat goes into Oklahoma City and dominates them and goes on to win another title, it could be a long time before anyone else gets a chance. We could be looking at another Magic’s Lakers or Jordan’s Bulls where other stars of this era get shut out much like Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Reggie Miller and Pat Ewing. While stars of that era had fine careers and ended up in the Hall of Fame, Durant and Russell Westbrook do not want to be this generation’s Stockton and Malone.