Richard Rowe-US PRESSWIRE

Thunder (40-13) at Heat (38-14), 8:00 P.M. EST tip


Thunder (1-game losing streak)
107.6 Offensive Efficiency (1st)
100.0 Defensive Efficiency (10th)
95.5 Pace (6th)
57.2 True Shooting % (1st)
51.4 Rebound Rate (5th)

Heat (1-game winning streak)
106.1 Offensive Efficiency (3rd)
97.4 Defensive Efficiency (4th)
94.1 Pace (13th)
55.9 True Shooting % (2nd)
51.1 Rebound Rate (7th)

The potential NBA Finals preview is more than just that tonight. It is also a game where the MVP of the regular season may very well be determined. It’s Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James.

The Thunder and Heat played two Sundays ago and the Thunder got the best of the Heat in that matchup winning by 16 at home. Now in South Beach the Heat will look to exact revenge.

The Thunder had their six-game winning streak stopped in their last game Monday night versus the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies showed the formula for beating the Thunder with great defense, rebounding and ball security.

Miami has been in a slump themselves until last night beating the Philadelphia 76ers without Dwyane Wade and getting 41 points from James.

Tonight, Wade will play and that could spell trouble for Russell Westbrook who struggled in the Thunder’s last game. Wade looked to have Westbrook’s number on defense in the first meeting and the Thunder had to rely on a great all-around game from Durant to get the win.

Durant gave them just that completely outplaying James and may have to do that again tonight, especially because the game is in Miami.

The Thunder bench plays worse like so many benches when on the road. This includes James Harden who also struggled with the Heat defense two weeks ago mostly when Shane Battier was covering him.

If we see the same story tonight with Westbrook and Harden struggling then the Heat should be able to get the win.

Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka combined for 35 points in the first meeting and it would be surprising if they do the same again tonight. The Heat’s game plan defensively was to take the ball out of the hands of Durant, Westbrook and Harden in the pick-and-roll and make the other players beat them. They did on that night.

The real story tonight will be the battle between Durant and James. They are the two leaders in the MVP race and whoever gets the better of the other tonight will surely be in the lead for the award.

Tags: Dwyane Wade James Harden Kendrick Perkins Kevin Durant LeBron James MVP Race Russell Westbrook Serge Ibaka Shane Battier