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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OKC Thunder showed terrific second half

In the second half, the Miami Heat adjusted to a zone defense in the hopes that it would contain the Thunder’s drives and paint touches. To a degree, it did, but not quite as effective as the Heat initially hoped it would be. 

The Thunder eked out a 13-0 run to start the third quarter and a 17-0 run stretching from the end of the third frame until the first five minutes of the final period. It took more than just great outside shooting to pull it off. 

OKC, as great as they were offensively, locked down on the Heat in those stretches, forcing Miami to miss their first five shots in the second half, and their seven attempts in that second run. 

According to Jalen Williams, this was the turniing point of the game. 

“I think it was around the third quarter, the start of the fourth, we had a really big run defensively,” Williams said. “I think that kind of turned the tide in the game.”

He was right. From there, the Thunder held on to the lead and never looked back. 

It was the kind of stretches in a game that defined teams and equalled winning. Thunder had everything in those situations and was firmly in control. 

Usually, being a second half team correlates to winning at a high level. Time can tell if this is true for the young Thunder crew.