El Jefe

Prediction: OKC Will Beat Heat in Thursday NBA Finals Rematch

Valentine's Day this year won't be about love or roses.

Thursday is likely to be about Heat fans -- and LeBron James -- crashing back to Earth.

That's the day we take on Kevin Durant's Oklahoma City Thunder in the belly of the beast. Last night, the hot hot Heat came back strong at the end of the game to beat the Portland Trailblazers 117 to 104. James set records. Chris Bosh and Ray Allen, who had been sidelined by the flu, scored a combined 46 points. Dwyane Wade shot badly through the first three quarters, then nailed the fourth.

So what is this about losing?

Durant's boys are likely to be angry. They lost last night to the lowly Utah Jazz. Durant was called for the first flagrant foul of his six-year career. A lengthy winning streak was snapped. The team with the seond-best record in the NBA had been playing great.

Lately, the Heat has been poor on the road and extremely bad against top-flight opponents. Sure, it nailed the Los Angeles Clippers this past Friday night, but that was a home game. And that team had just gotten back superstar Blake Griffin, who had been hurt.

My bet is the Heat is in for an extremely tough game. Rebounds, which have suddenly started falling our way, will be hard to come by.

Then there's Durant. He hit 11 for 16 and scored 33 points last night. Still, at the end of the game, he said this: "We just got to be better. We made some bone-headed plays. I know I did. We just have to be better."

And did we mention the game is being played in OKC? Guess we did.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse