Suspended Westbrook to sit as Thunder host Heat
It's been seven years since superstar guards Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook went head-to-head in the NBA Finals.
They've likely played their last game against one another.
It originally looked like Wade could be the one to miss the game after suffering a right hip bruise Friday night against Milwaukee. Instead it's Westbrook who won't suit up Monday night when his Oklahoma City Thunder host Wade and the Miami Heat.
With the Thunder down 13 late in the first half Saturday against Golden State, and in the midst of one of the roughest offensive nights of his career, Westbrook let his frustration bubble to the surface.
The Warriors' Klay Thompson blocked Westbrook's shot and grabbed the rebound. Westbrook, upset that there was no foul called on the play, immediately fouled Thompson and then started haranguing referee Tyler Ford.
Ford quickly called Westbrook for a technical foul. It was his 16th technical foul of the season, triggering an automatic one-game suspension without pay.
"I understand sometimes when those guys are going in there and they're getting hit and they're getting fouled, it's hard," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said before the league announced the suspension on Sunday. "And these guys invest a lot into the game. Obviously, I want Russell playing and I want him out there, but we'll see what happens and how this all shakes out."
Westbrook previously had two technical fouls rescinded this season, but not this time. It is the first time has been suspended for reaching the technical foul limit.
Westbrook has missed eight games this season due to injury, with the Thunder going 5-3 without him in the lineup.
Oklahoma City comes into the game having lost two consecutive games after scoring a season-low 88 points on Saturday.
Miami beat Charlotte at home Sunday, holding the Hornets to a season-low 75 points.
Wade, who has announced his retirement following this season, played more than 28 minutes in that game after starting the day as questionable because of a right hip bruise suffered Friday night against Milwaukee.
Monday's game marks the start of a critical four-game road trip for the Heat, who play nine of their final 13 games away from home.
"It's an opportunity to take on all challenges on the road," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "What a great time. ... If you're a true competitor, you love this. You love these big challenges. You love going out on the road where everybody's counting you out. There's nobody else but us. An opportunity. You've got to love it."
Miami is currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, just behind Brooklyn and just ahead of Orlando.
The Heat could be without forward Justise Winslow, who missed Sunday's game with a thigh bruise.
Without Winslow available, Miami turned to Derrick Jones Jr. to start. The Heat used their 24th different starting lineup.
Oklahoma City won the first meeting between the teams, 118-102, on Feb. 1 in Miami, a game in which the Thunder scored 72 first-half points and Paul George finished with 43 points.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 18, 2019