King James. The Slim Reaper. The two-time defending league champs. And the best team in the West.
Not a bad way to spend a Thursday evening, with or without a few bucks riding on the outcome.
The Miami Heat, trending toward that elusive championship three-peat, go up against one of the teams bent on preventing that from happening, as the Oklahoma City Thunder host the Heat at the Thunderdome.
In the early betting, the Thunder were favored by 3.5 points for this heavyweight battle with the Heat, according to most shops monitored by Bleacher Report’s odds partner OddsShark.com.
Miami, at 38-14, owns the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at the moment, two games behind Indiana. The Heat have won three in a row, six of their last seven and 11 of their last 14.
LeBron has been awesome lately. Eight days ago, he threw in 37 points in a win at Phoenix, then he hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to beat Golden State. In the first game after the All-Star break Tuesday night, he tallied 42 to help beat Dallas, 117-106.
Oklahoma City, meanwhile, leads the West by three games over second-place San Antonio. The Thunder have also won three in a row, five of their last six and 15 of their last 17.
On top of all that, OKC might get a boost for its arsenal with the possible return of point guard Russell Westbrook Thursday night. He's been out since Christmas with a knee injury, but is expected to be a game-time decision against the Heat, according to CBS Sports' Royce Young.
Miami has been an underdog three times so far this season and has won two of those games
The Heat had beaten the Thunder six times in a row, including the last four games of the NBA Finals series two seasons ago and a two-game season sweep last year.
But Oklahoma City put a temporary end to that situation in the first meeting between the teams this season three weeks ago in Miami, roaring back from an early 18-point deficit for a 112-95 victory.
These rivals also remain two of the two three consensus betting choices to win the NBA title.
TNT has the live coverage of Thursday's festivities starting at 8 p.m. ET. The OddsShark NBA picks computer has a 101-99 prediction in favor of the Thunder.
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