Skip to content

LeBron James, Miami Heat make their case at Thunder’s expense

Apr 4, 2012, 11:57 PM EDT

Miami Heat's James and Bosh wait for a rebound with Oklahoma City Thunder's Ibaka during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Miami Reuters

If this does end up being the NBA finals matchup, we are all in for a lot of fun. These teams are starting to develop a real dislike of each other.

Miami and Oklahoma City got together for an intense, physical, playoff-style game Wednesday were LeBron James make his MVP case and the Heat got a measure of revenge on Oklahoma City with a 98-93 win. They split their season series, each winning at home (OKC rolled the Heat two weeks ago).

It was a game where each team picked up some flagrants (including Russell Westbrook on LeBron and Kendrick Perkins on Dwyane Wade). There was some trash talking. There were messages both ways. You could feel a little playoff

Be careful about reading much into regular season statements — the Lakers dominated the Mavericks and the Bulls owned the Heat last regular season. But what we can say is that both of these teams are better on their home court and a finals series between them could be penciled in for seven games. Seven hard games.

One of the best part of Heat/Thunder games is that LeBron and Kevin Durant go head-to-head a lot.

After a sub-par performance in OKC (and lackluster play for a couple of weeks) LeBron came out with the kind of game that had him the clear frontrunner for the MVP back at the All-Star break. He dropped 34 points by starting out nailing threes then going into the post and bullying his way to the rim. All the time he was recognizing the play and hitting the open man — he finished with 10 assists. (A few of those were to Shane BattierJames Harden sagged off him a lot and the veteran made the Thunder pay.)

At the other end he was charged with stopping Kevin Durant — and nobody stops Kevin Durant. KD had 30 points on 21 shots but struggled from three (2-7) including missing a rushed deep three with 15 seconds remaining in the game that could have tied it. Westbrook added 28 but was just 9-26 shooting on the night.

The MVP race comes down to this — LeBron James has had the better statistical season, but voters (media members) are drawn to stories and narrative and as Durant is the great young player on the fun young team he has an advantage. Just like Derrick Rose did last year. This game put LeBron back in the mind of a lot of voters.

These are two teams with great athletes that like to play up-tempo — and you could feel the playoff series hatred starting to build a little. Both sides will say it’s one game and forgotten now, but they’ll remember just fine if both of them are playing in June.

Latest Posts
  1. 67RIEFNS No. 24: Chris Paul, NBA’s most underrated point guard

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

    Clippers point guard on his own level in post-Magic Johnson NBA

  2. Rajon Rondo says the Celtics will “surprise a lot of people”

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:15 PM EDT

    Rajon Rondo Rajon Rondo

    Rondo praises head coach Brad Stevens’ success on the college level.

  3. Donald Sterling drops suit against NBA, Shelly Sterling

    Oct 20, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Donald Sterling Donald Sterling

    He still has an antitrust suit pending against the NBA.

  4. Derrick Rose blows past Dion Waiters for the finish, and one (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    It’s only preseason, but the 2011 league MVP looks like his old self.

  5. Report: Board of Governors expected to pass draft lottery reform, Sixers and Thunder opposed

    Oct 20, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    2013 NBA Draft Lottery 2013 NBA Draft Lottery

    The proposed changes would give the four worst teams the same odds of winning the No. 1 pick in the draft.

  6. Pacers’ Paul George on court taking shots after practice (VIDEO)

    Oct 20, 2014, 6:59 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers Media Day 2014 Indiana Pacers Media Day 2014

    He’s moving well considered what happened to his leg just back in July.

  7. Hawks CEO induces certain gesture from T.I., redeems himself with a “for shizzle” (video)

    Oct 20, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Steve Koonin promoting Hawks’ season opener, which includes T.I. performances

  8. Lance Stephenson already flopping like it’s a playoff game (VINE)

    Oct 20, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets v Chicago Bulls Getty Images

    When Stephenson brought his game to Charlotte this season, he clearly brought the flopping with him.

  9. Pistons waive Hasheem Thabeet

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Detroit Pistons Media Day Detroit Pistons Media Day

    Detroit also cuts Brian Cook, Josh Bostic and Lorenzo Brown

  10. Lakers waive Jeremy Tyler, who’s China-bound

    Oct 20, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Media Day Los Angeles Lakers Media Day

    Door even more open for Ronnie Price and Wayne Ellington to make roster

  11. LeBron James reveals (?) his recruiting pitch

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    How did LeBron get Kevin Love, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones to join the Cavaliers?

  12. Five favorites to win NBA 2014-15 MVP

    Oct 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 1 Getty Images

    Smart money should go on LeBron James, but there will be serious challengers.

  13. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: San Antonio Spurs

    Oct 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    2014 NBA Finals - Game Five Getty Images

    If they can stay a step ahead of father time the Spurs are the bar to clear to win an NBA title.

Featured video

What are impacts of NBA's new TV deal?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. B. Beal (3758)
  2. D. Rose (3511)
  3. J. Lin (3475)
  4. N. Noel (3346)
  5. V. Oladipo (3325)