Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Miami Heat Pick & Prediction MARCH 8th 2024

The Oklahoma City Thunder are finally getting one of their recent additions integrated into the rotation.

The Miami Heat are still waiting for their latest signee to make his debut.

On Friday, the teams meet in Oklahoma City, with the Thunder looking to continue to regain their momentum as they battle near the top of the Western Conference, while the Heat aim to bounce back after a disappointing Thursday loss.

In Oklahoma City’s 128-120 road win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, Gordon Hayward had his best game since being acquired by the Thunder at the trade deadline. He contributed 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting in 18 minutes.

“We’re still learning how to best optimize him in terms of how to use him and who to put him out there with,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said.

Hayward is averaging 3.4 points and shooting just 32.3 percent through eight games with the Thunder.

“It’s hard to just plug into a team after not playing and then being on a different team in our situation,” Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams said of Hayward, who had missed more than a month before the Thunder acquired him from Charlotte.

“He’s doing a really good job of it. We try to just give him confidence to shoot the ball and play aggressive. … He’s playing with more and more comfort with our lineups and he’s starting to get acclimated to our offense more.”

The Heat hope to soon get acclimated to veteran guard Patty Mills. After signing with Miami on Wednesday, he is waiting to make his debut.

“I’m excited about it,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said before his team’s 114-108 road loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. “Again, at this time of the year, to be able to add somebody with that much experience, playoff experience, winning experience — and he’s a great teammate. He knows how to fit in.”

Mills could have a similar ramp-up with the Heat that Hayward had with the Thunder.

Mills appeared in 19 games for the Atlanta Hawks this season before being waived. He hasn’t appeared in a game since Feb. 7.

“We just think he’s another really good fit for a lot of different reasons,” Spoelstra said. “Stylistically, the way he plays, the way he competes. Offensively, he can create space. And his catch-and-shoot game, his dribble-handoff game, is something that we already have in our system.”

The Friday game will be the first in a four-game homestand for the Thunder, who have won eight of their past 10.

The Heat, despite the Thursday defeat, have won seven of their past nine.

The teams are set to meet for the second and final time this season. Oklahoma City won 128-120 on Jan. 10 in Miami behind 28 points from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The Thunder expect to get Jaylin Williams back after the second-year center missed the past three games with a left knee sprain.

The Heat remain without Tyler Herro (right foot tendinitis), Kevin Love (bruised right heel) and Josh Richardson (season-ending right shoulder surgery).

–Field Level Media

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