HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – When the Heat and Thunder square off tonight in Miami (8 p.m. ET on ESPN), it’ll serve as a bit of a test for both sides.
The Heat get to test their mettle against another one of the league’s “elite” squads and the Thunder get a chance to prove that they most definitely belong in the mix of said elite.
My main man Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman added a little twist to the festivities for the Thunder by posing the question, just how far away from championship contention is this Thunder group? (particularly with Kendrick Perkins in tow):
“There’s no easy path to that level. You have to earn it by working every day,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, a member of the championship-winning 1994 Rockets. “We’re getting pieces to having a good team. Perk is another good piece to getting where we want to get to.”
Perkins joins a stable of young talent that is led by soon-to-be back-to-back scoring champ Kevin Durant and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook. Together, despite both being just 22, they form the league’s third highest scoring duo. And they’re flanked by what appears to be the right blend of role players, a mix of veteran glue guys (Nick Collison and Thabo Sefolosha) and other young, untapped potential (James Harden, Serge Ibaka, Eric Maynor and Cole Aldrich).
“But it takes a lot of work, effort and good players,” Brooks said. “Not just one or two, it takes a team full of good players. And it takes some good fortune. We’re building our team with some good players. We want to keep working and keep improving. I don’t know when it’s going to happen, but we think like champions. We do everything like a champion.”