Takeaways: One growing concern, and one key improvement for the Thunder in win over Heat

The Oklahoma City Thunder got back down to business on the defensive end in the second half, which helped the team end their four-game road trip 2-2.

Jan 10, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) drives to the
Jan 10, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams (8) drives to the / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
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It is hard to envision the OKC Thunder without three-point baskets and relentless attacks to the rim. 

All that was on full display as the young Thunder crew took care of business on the road against the Miami Heat, 128-120. 

The win moved the Thunder to its best start since the 2015-2016 season, currently at 25-11. It was also the first win of OKC against the Heat — a team that have reached the NBA Finals last year — since the 2020 season. 

“What’s put us in this position is we’ve improved continuously… We prepare for the next game. We execute as best we can. We do our best. We compete together. We understand it’s not perfect and then we learn from the good, the bad. And we just rinse and repeat that 82 times ... wherever that lands us,”  Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said.

The Thunder have reached a point in the season where they have become a legitimate threat to any team. The days of teams slacking against OKC are now over, and the team is geared towards more statement wins as the season progresses. 

The Heat culture was a great test for the Thunder team. Miami is known for their toughness and drilled basketball ethos, which have earned them numerous championships and deep playoff runs in recent years. To some degree, this culture and success are what the OKC Thunder is trying to emulate with their young crew. 

Against a pretty shorthanded Heat, the Thunder showed what they are capable of — putting the ball through the hole efficiently, stifling offense on various stretches, and unleashing unrelenting attacks to the rim at every chance they can get. 

Here are some of the takeaways from this impressive display.