The NBA All-Star break is right around the corner, but before the Miami Heat superstars and head coach Erik Spoelstra travel to Houston for this year’s basketball festivities, a finals rematch against the Oklahoma City Thunder awaits.
On Christmas Day, the Heat drew first blood — in what was the first meeting between the two basketball juggernauts since Miami sent the Thunder home empty-handed last June — edging the Western Conference champions by six points.
Tonight, the Heat will once again enter the Chesapeake Energy Arena, and while it will be a regular season game, Chris Bosh believes that the crowd will make it feel as though the post-season is already upon us:
“We know what that crowd brings, so I don’t think they can tell the difference between a big game and the finals”.
The Christmas Day loss might not have hurt as much, but Bosh knows that the Thunder will be more motivated than ever to get back at Miami for last year’s finals:
“Absolutely. I mean they’re trying to get back and capitalize. We know that feeling. It’s a little bit more passionate when you’re playing the people who put you out, and we know that,” Especially being in their gym, they want to send a message. We understand that, we’re going to play our game. We’ve got to play with high intensity. It’s going to be a great atmosphere and I think it’s going to be like the finals was last year”.
Both teams will be coming into the game with a point to prove. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have had the luxury of sitting out several fourth quarters this month, thanks to a couple blowout victories. Despite the most recent loss to the Utah Jazz, the dynamic duo of the Thunder should be well rested and more motivated than ever to send a message.
On the other end, the Heat have gone on an absolute tear lately, winning six games in a row, in which LeBron James‘ supreme efficiency has rewarded him with an NBA record.
In tonight’s matchup we can expect three things – a lot of chippy play, playoff intensity, and a post-season atmosphere.
Vytis is a Miami Heat and NBA columnist at RantSports. Follow him on Twitter here: @VytisLasaitis