On Jan. 29, 2014, the Oklahoma City Thunder downed the Miami Heat 112-95. Almost a month later, the NBA‘s two best teams in recent years are set to collide in one of the biggest games of the season. For the Heat, LeBron James has made it clear that he is not going to sit aside and let Kevin Durant take his crown. For the Thunder, they are hot as ever and expected to get even better when Russell Westbrook returns to the lineup on Thursday.
Back in January, the Thunder surprised the Heat en route to one of the biggest wins thus far. Without Westbrook, OKC owned the Heat in every way possible. Now the Heat are seeking revenge, and LeBron is coming off a season-high 42-point night in the Heat’s win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. The Thunder have the opportunity to rest a little longer as they await their first post All-Star game.
The players involved in the Thunder vs. Heat matchup may downplay the relevance of the game, but everyone knows this is not just another night on the job. It is not set in stone that either of these teams will make it to the NBA Finals. Therefore, it is important for each squad to make a statement now. The Thunder’s win in January was okay, but a win on Thursday will mean much more, especially with Westbrook back in the mix.
If the Thunder go on to lose this game,the world will then be wondering whether the slip is due to Westbrook’s return. All over the world, people have sparked debates on whether or not Westbrook’s return will hurt the Thunder. Some people believe that the return of the three-time All-Star will have a negative impact on Durant’s MVP-like play thus far, ultimately leading OKC to trade him away.
I do not expect the Thunder to move Westbrook. There is no question that his role on the team will affect Durant’s output. Still, that does not mean it is a bad thing. Westbrook will be just as important as KD going forward. Only by working together, without selfishness, will this team have a chance to win a NBA Championship.
Check out the rest of the Thunder schedule to find out which is the best remaining game to get tickets for.