It could be a long night for the Oklahoma City Thunder, whose winning run could grind to a halt in Florida tonight, writes Mark Woods...
Miami Heat 1.58, Oklahoma City Thunder 2.40 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 00.05 GMT
With eight straight wins, an All Star nod for coach Scott Brooks, and an ability to overcome the loss of Russell Westbrook, it’s been all rosy in the garden of the Oklahoma City Thunder. But can they overcome the ultimate test on Wednesday with a trip to the Miami Heat?
Much rests, as it has done lately, on Kevin Durant whose explosion in the absence of Westbrook has propelled him into being 1.25 favourite for league MVP, ahead of LeBron James at 3.40.
Over his last ten games, the Thunder forward has averaged 38.3 points, taking OKC to the best record in the Western Conference and shooting over 50 per cent for the season.
The individual numbers are one thing. But the fact that Durant’s team is winning big, with a 16-7 road record, suggests they’re in the frame to get back to the Finals – with a re-match of their 2012 showdown with Miami a real prospect.
With Dwyane Wade sitting out for a four-game stretch, James has also upped the ante of late, putting up 28.4 over his last ten games. Yet Miami have been toiling by their own standards, winning just six of their last ten – although with three straight victories, including a 113-101 defeat of San Antonio on Sunday.
There’s still a suspicion that the two-time defending champions are coasting a little through the regular season, with their veterans saving themselves for the playoffs.
But the Heat – who are 1.55 to win - are 13-3 over the Thunder in the James-Durant era. And with team defence a speciality, take a look on Miami on the -5.5 handicap to break the Thunder’s run.
LA Clippers 1.24, Washington Wizards 4.25 – BET and STREAM live on Unibet TV from 03.35 GMT
Every January, the Los Angeles Clippers need to go on the road when the Grammys come to town. This season, they went 5-2 on their travels, a really positive note with Chris Paul still sidelined.
Now they come back to LA to host the Washington Wizards, who are looking to move above .500 for the first time since 2009.
The Wiz have beaten Golden State and Phoenix on their current West Coast swing but the Clippers are 11-3 against the East this term.
And with Blake Griffin, who is averaging 22.8 points, heading their charge, expect it to be a happy homecoming.
Best bet: Back Miami over Oklahoma City on the -5.5 handicap at 2.15.