NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 4th (All times eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (40-13) at Miami Heat (38-14), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Fresh off clinching a playoff berth, the Miami Heat will be seeking a little revenge along with a 17th consecutive win at home tonight when they welcome Western Conference powerhouse Oklahoma City to the shores of Biscayne Bay.
Less than two weeks ago the Thunder rolled over the Heat in Oklahoma City, 103-87, behind Kevin Durant's 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Things could be different in South Beach, however. Miami has now ripped off 16 straight at AmericanAirlines Arena and is an NBA-best 22-2 as the host this season after dispensing of Philadelphia, 99-93, on Tuesday despite the absence of All-Star Dwyane Wade, who sat out the contest to rest a sore knee.
LeBron James netted a season-high 41 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and three steals in Wade's absence as the Miami clinched their fourth consecutive playoff berth.
"Knowing that one of our top scorers (Wade) was not in uniform, I knew I had to pick it up offensively," James said.
Mario Chalmers added 19 points, six rebounds and four assists for Miami, which rebounded from an embarrassing 19-point loss at Boston on Sunday. The Heat also swept the season series against Philadelphia for a third straight year.
Miami is an impressive 9-1 without Wade this season but could have the superstar back in the lineup tonight.
"We want to be very smart about it right now," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade's latest injury. "It's nothing serious. It's just a bruise. But he is sore."
The Heat, who haven't lost at home since Jan. 22 versus Milwaukee, are continuing a five-game residency this evening with the Grizzlies, Pistons and Celtics left on the docket. They are on their longest home run since an 18- game streak from Jan. 23-April 5, 2005.
Oklahoma City, which has also already clinched a postseason berth, is trying to hold off San Antonio for the top spot in the West. The Thunder lead the Spurs by just two games after a 94-88 home loss to Memphis on Monday.
Durant paced the Thunder in that one with 21 points and Russell Westbrook had 19, but it was not enough for Oklahoma City to win its seventh straight game. James Harden and Serge Ibaka scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, in defeat.
Oklahoma City also missed an opportunity to move percentage points ahead of Chicago in the race for the NBA's top overall team. The Bulls, who lead the Eastern Conference, are now a game ahead of OKC.
"We can't get discouraged by this loss," Durant told the Thunder's website. "Of course we want to win every game, but I think we have to get past it and get ready for the next one."
The Thunder have won four of their last five games against Miami.
04/04 10:49:07 ET