It seems hard to ignore at the season’s midpoint.
The teams share the league’s best record, and both rolled into the All-Star break. With Durant and Russell Westbrook on one side and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh looking to avenge their finals
disappointment, the series could be a thriller.
But Chicago is right on Miami’s heels in the East, and a number of contenders could emerge for the Thunder out West.
The second half opens today, and the other big story is Dwight Howard’s situation. Orlando has to decide by the March 15 deadline whether it will keep or trade its franchise center.
Durant isn’t looking ahead to the playoffs.
“It’s too early for that,” the All-Star Game MVP said. “We’re trying to take it a game at a time, a day at a time. I know in Oklahoma City, we look forward to getting better every day, and we’ll see what happens.”
In the All-Star Game, Durant and Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook helped shoot the West to a big lead. James and Wade almost brought the East back before James’ turnover in the final seconds
allowed the West to escape with a 152-149 victory.
“We’ve got a lot of season to go. I’m on the right path, back to playing basketball how I play, and that’s back to having fun at a high level,” James said. “The best thing about this season so far, we’re playing some good basketball. Our team feels that we are one right now, especially with last year under our belt, so we’re just going to try to get better every day.”
Miami and Oklahoma City rolled into the break with a share of the NBA’s best record at 27-7.
The Heat have won eight in a row in overwhelming fashion; the Thunder have won five in a row and are 15-1 at home.
The Magic have the East’s fourth-best record and look good enough at times to be viewed as a contender.
Howard said the Magic haven’t hit their peak yet and have an opportunity to compete for the title.
“That says a lot about our team and about the growth of the team despite everything that’s been going around,” he said. “We’ve been able to stay focused on what we need to do, and we’re only going to get better.”