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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 20th (All times Eastern)

Miami Heat (38-14) at Oklahoma City Thunder (43-12), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - One of the best regular-season matchups, and a possible NBA Finals preview, takes center stage Thursday night when the two-time champion Miami Heat visit the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There are so many subplots in this game, but none bigger than the battle of MVP candidates. Right now, the award is OKC forward Kevin Durant's to lose, but Miami's LeBron James has taken the last two and four of the last five.

James, for one, wasn't interested in head-to-head discussions following the All-Star game this past weekend.

"I focus on the team game. I play team basketball. I've always played that way," James said after his Eastern Conference won on Sunday in New Orleans. "Obviously myself and Kevin are trying to do great things individually, and when we get that matchup, it is fun."

The Thunder won the first matchup of the season, a 112-95 drubbing of the Heat in South Beach on Jan. 29.

Durant netted 33 points and extended his 30-or-more points streak to 12 games, which was the longest in the league since the 2002-03 season. It was OKC's ninth consecutive win.

James finished with 34 points on that January night.

The Thunder own the NBA's best mark and may actually improve as a team. All- Star guard Russell Westbrook went through a full practice on Wednesday and is expected to return very soon, maybe even Thursday night.

"With Russell coming back, it adds a dynamic player on both ends of the floor," head coach Scott Brooks explained. "Russell doesn't get enough credit for this, but the defensive toughness that he demands and also his ability to get to the free throw line, those are the things that we like."

Westbrook had knee surgery in December and has missed 30 games this season. He attended every practice and shootaround while injured and even traveled with the team.

In doing so, Westbrook got to watch Durant and the Thunder win their last three, including two on the road. Before the break, OKC toppled the Portland Trail Blazers by three and the Los Angeles Lakers by four. Those two road victories gave the Thunder 20 on the season.

Oklahoma City opens the post-break portion of its schedule with six straight at home. The LA Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, Charlotte Bobcats and Philadelphia 76ers all visit Chesapeake Energy Arena following the Heat.

Miami has also won three straight and the only thing stopping the Heat from a perfect 5-0 mark on this current road trip was a loss to the Utah Jazz on Feb. 8.

On Tuesday, James erupted for a season-high 42 points on an efficient 16-of-23 shooting display and fueled a late 14-0 run that put a 117-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks on ice. The four-time league MVP added nine rebounds and six assists for good measure as the Heat improved to 4-1 on a road trip.

"If we can continue to play at a high level defensively and continue to share the ball ... we will give ourselves a good chance to win," James said of Thursday's showdown.

Chris Bosh chipped in with 22 points, Chris Andersen contributed 18 off the bench and Dwyane Wade provided 13 points with seven assists.

The Heat swept both of last season's matchups and had a three-game series winning streak halted a few weeks ago. Miami has won six of the last eight in this series as the visitor.

02/20 10:33:07 ET

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  • MiLB: Bulls vs. Syracuse

    Tonight at 6:20 on Buzz Sports Radio

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    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

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Local
Final
STONYBROOK 0
NCSTATE 3
 
Final
SYR 1
DUR 3
 
6:35pm Tonight
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DUR
 
8:00pm Tonight
NCSTATE
TCU
 
Final
KAN 8
CHC 4
Final
COL 4
PHI 1
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TAM 1
BAL 2
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MIA 4
NYM 3
Final
WAS 2
CIN 5
Final
BOS 4
TEX 7
Final
ARI 7
MIL 5
Final
CWS 6
HOU 3
Final
TOR 6
MIN 4
Final
LOS 0
STL 3
Final
DET 0
ANA 2
Final
NYY 2
OAK 6
Final
CLE 1
SEA 2
Final
PIT 2
SDP 6
Final
ATL 2
SFG 4
2:10pm Today
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Today
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Today
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Today
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Today
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Today
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Tonight
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Tonight
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Tonight
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Tonight
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Tonight
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Tonight
PIT
SDP
 
Final
TAM 2
NYR 0
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
ANA
 
Final
AUBURN 6
CHARLESTON 7
 
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CALIFORNIA 9
CCAROLINA 3
 
Final
COLUMBIA 6
ECAROLINA 3
 
Final
ORALROBRTS 6
ARKANSAS 8
 
Final
SFLORIDA 5
FAU 3
 
Final
WRIGHTST 7
NOTREDAME 13
 
Final
MICHIGAN 10
BRADLEY 5
 
Final
OREGON 1
IOWA 3
 
Final
TEXAS 4
OREGONST 5
 
Final
INDIANA 7
RADFORD 1
 
Final
ULLAFAYETE 7
RICE 6
 
Final
STONYBROOK 0
NCSTATE 3
 
Final
LEHIGH 3
LSU 10
 
Final
CLEMSON 4
ARIZONAST 7
 
Final
MERCER 4
FLORIDAST 5
 
Final
MOREHEADST 2
LOUISVILLE 7
 
Final
VIRGINIA 6
USC 1
 
7:00pm Friday
CANISIUS 0
SWMISSOURI 0
 
Final
FIU 2
MIAFLA 6
 
Final
FLAAM 0
FLORIDA 19
 
Final
MARYLAND 3
MISS 1
 
Final
STJOHNS 4
OKLAHOMAST 5
 
Final
TSOUTHERN 0
TEXASAM 5
 
Final
VCU 7
DALLASBAPT 2
 
Final
HSTNBAPT 4
HOUSTON 6
 
Final
LIPSCOMB 1
VANDERBILT 9
 
Final
OHIO 3
ILLINOIS 10
 
Final
SACREDHART 0
TCU 10
 
Final
PEPPERDINE 3
FULLERTON 9
 
Final
SANDIEGOST 4
CSANTABAR 3
 
Final
TULANE 1
NWILMINGTN 10
 
Final
CSBAKER 2
UCLA 7
 
12:00pm Today
AUBURN
MERCER
 
12:00pm Today
BRADLEY
MOREHEADST
 
12:00pm Today
TEXAS
DALLASBAPT
 
1:00pm Today
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
1:00pm Today
CCAROLINA
TSOUTHERN
 
1:00pm Today
ECAROLINA
FIU
 
1:00pm Today
FAU
FLAAM
 
1:00pm Today
ORALROBRTS
STJOHNS
 
1:00pm Today
WRIGHTST
OHIO
 
3:30pm Today
RICE
HSTNBAPT
 
3:30pm Today
STONYBROOK
SACREDHART
 
4:00pm Today
MICHIGAN
LOUISVILLE
 
4:00pm Today
RADFORD
LIPSCOMB
 
4:00pm Today
TULANE
LEHIGH
 
5:00pm Tonight
OREGON
TBA
 
6:00pm Tonight
CHARLESTON
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Tonight
USC
CSANTABAR
 
7:00pm Tonight
ARKANSAS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Tonight
CALIFORNIA
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLEMSON
PEPPERDINE
 
7:00pm Tonight
COLUMBIA
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Tonight
MISS
CSBAKER
 
7:00pm Tonight
OREGONST
VCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
SFLORIDA
FLORIDA
 
8:00pm Tonight
INDIANA
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ULLAFAYETE
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Tonight
NCSTATE
TCU
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOTREDAME
ILLINOIS
 
9:00pm Tonight
IOWA
TBA
 
9:00pm Tonight
NWILMINGTN
LSU
 
10:00pm Tonight
VIRGINIA
SANDIEGOST
 
11:00pm Tonight
ARIZONAST
FULLERTON
 
11:00pm Tonight
MARYLAND
UCLA
 
Final
SYR 1
DUR 3
 
6:35pm Tonight
SYR
DUR