2012-13 NBA Game Of The Week: Week 9 Thunder V Heat
This weeks game of the week is one of the more highly anticipated regular season game of the season. It is the highlight of all the Christmas Day matches.
GAME TIME & VIEWING OPTIONS:
Time & Date: Boxing Day – Wednesday, December 26, 2012 9:30am AEDT
Location: American Airlines Arena, Miami.
FORM HEADING IN:
Oklahoma City: 21-5
Oklahoma City have been great this season and currently have the best record in the NBA. They have had a 12 game winning streak, stretching from November 26th to December 19th. That streak was ended by a surging Timberwolves team. They wouldn’t have been too worried by the loss though, as they were bound for a down game and a loss at some stage.
Miami have the best record in the Eastern Conference. They have taken off where they left off last season. Their team seems a lot more settled this season than last, which is worrying sign for the rest of the NBA. The addition of Ray Allen as helped them tremendously down the stretch of tight games. Without him, they would have a couple more losses to their name.
MATCH UPS OF THE NIGHT:
In this match there is too many great match ups to focus on just one. So I’ve decided to do a brief run down of every position.
This is one of the more lopsided match ups of the night. Russell Westbrook is a much better point guard than Mario Chalmers. Sure Westbrook has his haters, but even they would struggle to argue that Chalmers is a better player. Westbrook is a vital cog on the offensive end for OKC, he creates plays and scores in bunches.
Chalmers is a serviceable point guard who knows his role in this Miami team. Chalmers will need to play tight defense on Westbrook and force him into turning over the ball. Chalmers will also have to try to stop him from penetrating to the basket for easy layups or slam dunks.
The bench players will play a huge role at the shooting guard position throughout this match. Dwayne Wade will start for the Heat and Thabo Sefolosha will start for the Thunder. Wade may not be the Heat’s best player but he is still arguably the most important player on the team, including LeBron. Sefolosha is a solid starter for OKC, he can score and rebound. He knows that his job is to let Durant and Westbrook score first and foremost.
Ray Allen and Kevin Martin are the two most reliable bench players for their respective teams. Allen has been as clutch as ever this season, hitting multiple game winners. Martin has been a good scorer for OKC since the high profile trade from Houston. He is the leader for the Thunder bench and is averaging the third most points for the team.
Durant has come back this season like a man on a mission. He has been doing a lot more than just scoring this season. He is rebounding and dishing out assists at career high levels. James has been doing what he has done throughout his whole career: scoring, rebounding and dishing out assists. He hasn’t been scoring at career highs, but the rest of his game is just so good, you can’t blame him for doing other things than just scoring.
This match up will be an intense shooting battle. I would love to see Durant and James go back and forth all night. The two might be good friends but it certainly won’t look like it when they are going head to head on Christmas Day.
Udonis Haslem isn’t exactly a household name but he holds a very respectable record for the Miami Heat franchise. Earlier this season he set the all time Miami Heat rebounding record. This season he hasn’t been a dominant big man, his rebounding numbers aren’t anything special this season, with 5 per game.
Serge Ibaka is known for his blocking abilities, but this season he has taken the rest of his game to a new level. He has improved his points per game from 9 last season, way up to over 14 this season. This improved production has meant that the loss of James Harden hasn’t been as noticeable as it could’ve been.
Chris Bosh has been terrific this season. His move from power forward back to center has proved to be a mastermind move by coach Erik Spoelstra. Bosh has been a great presence on the offensive end providing the team with 18 points per game. In some games when Wade hasn’t been scoring, Bosh has stood up and hit shots when needed.
Kendrick Perkins has been criticized all season, some saying he shouldn’t be starting on such a great team. His production has been down compared to previous seasons, but he is still a good center for the team, pulling down valuable rebounds. He has been an angry person for most of the season, highlighted by his tussle with Memphis forward Zach Randolph.
While Bosh’s number are more impressive than Perkins’, I wouldn’t be expecting Perkins to back down from the fight.
Ray Allen might prove to be the game winner if this game goes down to the wire. Allen has been one of the best off season pick ups in the NBA. At the end of his time with Boson he was beginning to look old and having ankle troubles. Since his move to Miami he looks like a rejuvenated player. His ankles haven’t troubled him much at all. Allens one real weakness is his defense, which Miami knew when they picked him up.
If this is a close match in the fourth quarter look for Miami to go to Ray Allen to finish off the match.
PREDICTED STARTING LINE UPS:
- Point guard: Mario Chalmers
- Shooting guard: Dwayne Wade
- Small forward: LeBron James
- Power forward: Udonis Haslem
- Center: Chris Bosh
- Point guard: Russell Westbrook
- Shooting guard: Thabo Sefolosha
- Small forward: Kevin Durant
- Power forward: Serge Ibaka
- Center: Kendrick Perkins
This match is looking as though it could be one of the best matches of the season. Both teams are in top form and won’t be willing to give the other any room to operate in. I can’t see a definitive reason as to why one team will win over the other.
My prediction: I really can’t say with any confidence as to who will win. That being said, I think Oklahoma City will come out hard and will be looking to get some sort of revenge on Miami.
Final score: Oklahoma City: 102 Miami: 98 in over time.