The two NBA megastars. The two teams catching the hottest of fire. Yup, as unmissable games go, there’s not many like tonight’s clash between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But while very little has gone wrong for the Cavs in recent weeks – LeBron James touching of the Duchess of Cambridge’s shoulder notwithstanding – it’s set to be a battle all the way for one of their Western counterparts.
The signs, however, are promising, now that Kevin Durant is back in the role of reigning MVP and Russell Westbrook line perfect as his able sidekick.
Since the duo were reunited on the court after their respective injuries, OKC has sped off the foot of the Conference to win five out of six to move to within three games of eighth-placed Phoenix – with Ol’ Russ notching 26 points per game since his return.
Let’s not get carried away just yet. Every one of those victories have come against some of the NBA’s downtrodden disasters, with the Thunder 0-6 to date versus opponents with .500+ records.
Durant is still only scoring 22 per night, five below his career mark, and Steven Adams still doesn’t look like the kind of centre you’d bank a title on.
Still, Oklahoma City – favoured at 1.74 for the win and at 13.00 for the championship - continues to excel defensively which could slow a Cavaliers team which have only once been held to under 100 in their current eight-game winning streak.
Cleveland, thought, just look a little farther along after their own problematic start with Irving likely to have a point to make against Westbrook.
And with James firing in averaging a team-best 7.7 assists, and ever eager to outshine Durant, the Thunder – for now – may be quelled.
Best bet: Take Cleveland on the handicap of -4.5 against Oklahoma City at 3.05