Despite being without Russell Westbrook, the Oklahoma City Thunder have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA as of late. After their win over Miami on Wednesday night, the Thunder have now won 9 straight and find themselves in first place in the Western Conference. Also included in that streak are huge wins over fellow foes in the west San Antonio, Portland and Golden State.
For the last two years, many of the talks surrounding the Thunder have included heated debate regarding whether or not two superstars like Durant and Westbrook can co-exist and lead their team to victory. The tear that the Thunder are currently riding may prove that they don’t need as much help from Westbrook as much as they do from KD.
While the Thunder have won 9 in a row and 10 of their last 11, Durant has put up at least 30 points in 12 straight games. That streak continued with 33 in Wednesdays meeting against the Heat. Without Durant having to worry about sharing the ball with Westbrook as much, he has proven that he is feeling more comfortable leading this team as the main go-to guy.
What might even be more impressive about the win on Wednesday was that Durant, along with the help of Serge Ibaka and the bench, was able to outdo the trio of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Bosh was second on the team with 36 minutes on Wednesday, which allowed him to tally 18 points. And Wade, who has missed a load of time this season due to injuries, put in 32 minutes and racked up 15 points of his own.
This wasn’t one of those nights where the big three wasn’t all there for the Heat and the Thunder got lucky. Instead, there was plenty of input from James, Bosh and Wade, but Durant and the Thunder were still able to do enough to win, and win big with a 17-point margin.
The Thunder not only leapfrogged the Spurs for first place this past week when they beat San Antonio, but now they are an cruising so well that they are 3 ½ games ahead of both the Spurs and Portland. The loss for the Heat keeps them 3 ½ games behind Indiana for first in the East, but they are still 8 full games ahead of Toronto, which is in third place in the East.
Next on tap for the Thunder are the Brooklyn Nets. Aside from the Thunder, the Nets may be the hottest team in the NBA right now, after starting 2014 with a 10-2 record. The Heat will play the Knicks, who won their last three after going on a 6-game skid.
Miami still remains the favorite to win the NBA Championship at 2/1 odds. However, the current streak for the Thunder have now put them at 11/2.
The teams will play on more time this year, this time in Oklahoma City, in just a few weeks on February 20th.
Flagrant Fouls: None
Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: None – TEAMS: None – COACHES: None
Officials: Derrick Collins, Tony Brothers, David Guthrie
Time of Game: 2:26