If you were Erik Spoelstra, what would you tell the Miami Heat to do? Right: neutralize Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. This didn’t work so well Westbrook got into foul trouble early and played probably five or six minutes less than anticipated, and how do you stop KD? but what the Heat definitely weren’t expecting was big offense from the Thunder bigs. Serge Ibaka laid a double-double on the Heat (19 points, 10 boards), and Kendrick Perkins had a season-high 16 points, as what had promised to be a down-to-the-wire battle royal turned out to be a 103-87 rout of the South Beach crowd.
The Thunder were simply dominant tonight: they outshot the Heat (53 percent to 47), outrebounded them (36-31), outassisted them (26-17), and forced 21 turnovers while giving up only 16. The Miami triumvirate turned in decent numbers, with Dwyane Wade leading the Heat with 22, Chris Bosh scoring 18 and LeBron James 17, but that was about it, though Shane Battier put up nine long balls and connected on three of them for 11 points. (D-Wade hit three of four for distance; King James missed all three of his.)
And Westbrook, in his abbreviated stint, still got 13 points and six dimes. As for Durant, he was averaging about 28, and he finished with … um, 28. As almost always, James Harden led the reserves, with 19. The rehabilitation of Thabo Sefolosha continues apace: the Swiss Mister played 20 minutes tonight, scoring four, all from the free-throw line, and grabbing three steals. There wasn’t a whole lot going wrong for the Thunder tonight, though KD did brick two free throws after garbage time had begun.
Still, cooling off the Heat is only the beginning. There are rivals out West who must be dealt with next week: the Blazers on Tuesday, the Lakers on Thursday. There’s a two-game home stand after that, but it’s a killer: the Bulls on Sunday afternoon, the Grizzlies on Monday evening. Does this still count as a back-to-back?