Thunder-Heat Preview: Shai's Chance on the National Stage


Jan 10, 2023

We have a pair of NBA games tonight on TNT, so we’ll tune in to watch the Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat. Many probably have not seen OKC play this year. They’re missing the evolution of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is fun to watch and not talked about enough as an elite talent.

Emerging as a borderline top-ten player in the NBA, he’s the league’s fourth-highest scorer and on his way to his first of many All-Star Games. The trade that brought SGA to Oklahoma City in the Paul George blockbuster may favor the Thunder.

Thunder @ Heat Game Information
  • Location: FTX Arena | Miami, FL
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET | TV: TNT

The Heat have had a rather underwhelming season. They sit at 21-20, eighth in the East, short of aspirations coming off their seven-game Eastern Conference Finals appearance. Consistency has been an issue as they’ve been dealing with numerous injuries, as Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro are all out tonight.

OKC is in the play-in mix in the West but still looks to be a year away, as long as Sam Presti doesn’t feel the urge to trade pieces for first-round picks in 2032. The Thunder have won three of four and should be amped for their first prime-time game of the season, the first of some of their careers.

Thunder @ Heat Game Odds on FanDuel
  • Spread: Thunder +2.5 (-114) | Heat -2.5 (-106)
  • Moneyline: Thunder (+116) | Heat (-136) 
  • Total: Over 222 (-110) | Under 222 (-110)

Miami is the third-worst team against the spread and dead-last ATS in their building. OKC isn’t great on the road (5-13), but they’ve relished the underdog role, going 19-10 when getting points. We’re going to snag those points and, with how OKC is playing, sprinkle some on the money line. 

Thunder @ Heat Prop Picks 
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander OVER 30.5 Points (-104)
  • Lu Dort OVER 13.5 Points (-120) | OVER 2.5 Threes (+154)
  • Max Strus OVER Assists | Jimmy Butler UNDER 8.5 Rebounds (-128)

This is Shai’s moment. He’s at nearly 31 PPG, but the average fan has not seen him play, despite the talent to be a major draw on any night. SGA has gone over this prop in two of his last three and will have the ball in his hands enough to put on a memorable performance. Back his OVER.

Lu Dort has gone over 13.5 points in four of his last six games and has had three-plus threes in five of his previous six. We’re pairing these plays with Dort hot beyond the arc of late, while Miami’s isn’t as good at defending the perimeter and has allowed the fifth-most made threes per game.

Max Strus’s assist% climbs from 8.9% to 16.4% in games where Lowry has not played this season, so we’ll also look to play his OVER. 

OKC allows the most rebounds per game, but we don’t view Jimmy Butler as the one to benefit. He’ll need to be much more ball-dominant without Lowry or Herro on the floor, so we’ll look for Haywood Highsmith and Orlando Robinson to benefit the most. Butler has averaged 5.5 rebounds per game in games without Bam this season, and overall, Butler has only gone over 8.5 rebounds in four of 27 games. Take his UNDER.

Thumbnail photo via Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

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