Oklahoma City Thunder
Photo: NBC Sports

The State of the union has not changed much as we keep chugging on into the middle of the season.

The LA Lakers keep winning, and so do the Milwaukee Bucks. And as always, we have an amazing battle going on for the top spots in the West.

The Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz and the LA Clippers all have 28 wins and are vying for the No. 2 seed.

While the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks are both just a couple of games behind at 26 wins.

We don’t really start seeing much separation until we get to that No. 7 spot in the Western Conference. The Oklahoma City Thunder are a 23-win team – at the time of writing– and then wins fall below .500, as we hit that No. 8 spot.

There are seven NBA games on slate for Friday night. Let’s look at a game that shows promise to be fantastic!

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander OKC Toronto
Photo: Oklahoma City Thunder

Will Thunder ‘Heat’ Up in OKC?

The Miami Heat are second in the Eastern Conference and they are heading over to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder on Friday.

We don’t have any betting odds available just yet, but that doesn’t matter. We can handicap the game through stats and recent performance and get a good idea of the outcome.

The Heat went cold in New York, dropping back-to-back games to the Brooklyn Nets and the Knicks. But, they got back to their winning ways in their 106-100 home victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

The Thunder went on a pretty epic win streak at the end of December and beginning of January.

But, since then, they have been hopping back and forth on either foot, with win on one side and loss on the other.

Their most recent game was against the Toronto Raptors to start their three-game home-stand, but they lost 121-130.

So, we have one team coming off a win, the other off a loss and both with one day of rest.

The Heat have a two-point overall scoring advantage as they average 111.5 points per game (No. 12 in the league).

The Thunder are 18th in scoring with 109.4. But at home, they put up 113.4 per game and over their last three they have averaged 116 on the button.

So, they have some momentum right now that could cause problems for a Heat squad that only scores 108 per game while out on the highway.

Defensively, these two teams are almost dead evens on any given night. The Heat are 11th in scoring defense, while the Thunder are 12th, 107.8 to 107.9 respectively.

OKC has played much better defense on the road though. At home, they decline to 110 points allowed per game.

The Heat are better at home and get 111 per game netted on them, while playing as the visiting squad.

So, at a glance, we can see that the Thunder should be favorites in this one by six points. Now, the Heat have slipped a bit defensively over the last few days, so I think this one will be a close game.

Still, I would line OKC out at -3, especially since the Thunder have owned the Heat over their last 10 meetings winning eight of them, including two of the last three.

But, Miami is a different team this season. After all, they are No. 2 in the East and have the 4th best field goal percentage in the NBA at 47.2.

Jimmy Butler Miami Heat NY Knicks
Photo: Miami Heat

They have been extremely hot over the last few days, upping that shooting % to 50.6. That said, the Thunder have shot well too recently, pushing their number up to 49%.

The difference will come in how well the Thunder guard the perimeter, because right now the Heat are dropping threes at a rate of 37.8% – second in the league.

This could prove problematic for the Thunder, because they have allowed opponents to hit threes at a 44.7 percent clip over the last three games. Normally they allow just over 35% at home, which is the middle of the pack.

Expect a close game in this one. I lean towards the Thunder to get the win. But, there are certain matchup elements that favor the Heat. We could see a back and forth game that comes down to the final couple of possessions.