Thunder at Heat (7pm ET Thursday, TNT)
Despite Monday’s 106-100 loss to the Hawks, the Oklahoma City Thunder appear to have gotten it together after suffering through a 1-3 slog while Kevin Durant nursed his latest injury. They’ve gone 3-1 since Durant’s return, with the star shooting guard contributing 29 points a game, and still finding time to whine about the media. Their 11-7 record is good enough for 1st in the Northwest Division, and 3rd in the Western Conference.
Dwyane Wade’s 30 points on Monday weren’t enough to lift the Heat over the Boston Celtics, as Miami fell 105-95. Still, the Miami Heat are 10-6, though that is partially the product of a weak schedule, as their opponents have a combined winning percentage of .486, and only 2 of their wins have been against teams that are over .500. But, hey, crushing the little guys while playing the big boys even will get you to the postseason almost every year, and right now it has Miami in 1st in the Southeast and 3rd in the East. Also, they deserve credit for getting it done with only 20 minutes total from Amar’e Stoudemire, the somewhat mysterious 6-game absence of Gerald Green and Luol Deng’s current hamstring issues, which have kept him sidelined for 3 games and counting.
Spurs vs. Grizzlies (9:30pm ET Thursday, TNT)
Oh, look, the San Antonio Spurs are 15-4, drama-free, and keeping everyone fresh and healthy with a deep rotation and limited minutes. Who’d’a guessed? They’ve got the second-best record and point differential in the league. Wednesday’s 95-70 dissection of the Milwaukee Bucks was a classic Spurs clinic, as San Antonio had 10 guys play between 18 and 25 minutes, Tim Duncan led the team in both points and rebounds with 16 and 10, and the Bucks shot only 33.8 from the floor.
After a 5-game stretch during which he averaged just 11.2 points per game, Marc Gasol exploded Tuesday for the 38 points, to go along with 13 boards and 4 blocks, as the Memphis (Where There Are No) Grizzlies downed the lowly Pelicans, 113-104. The Griz are now 11-8, and tied for the 4-seed in the West. Not bad for a team that a few weeks ago was 3-6 and still trying to recover from a 50-point loss to the Warriors.