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Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports

Struggles for Russell Westbrook?

It's just two games, but they haven't been pretty. Since Russell Westbrook returned to the Oklahoma City Thunder's lineup, the West's No. 1 team has lost twice at home -- Thursday in blowout fashion to the Miami Heat, and Sunday in a closer game against the Los Angeles Clippers. Further highlighting the correlation has been Westbrook's play; he's scored just 29 points on 7-of-25 shooting, with eight assists and seven turnovers. Again, it's a very, very small sample. But OKC was rolling before it welcomed back this All-Star ...

  • What do you make of the Thunder losing twice at home since Russell Westbrook's return?

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  • When will Russell Westbrook return to form for the Thunder?

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  • Can the Thunder win an NBA title without an in-form Russell Westbrook?

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  • Which team will win the NBA championship?

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Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY Sports

Heat hammer Thunder in OKC

It's one game, it's one game, it's one game. But when opposite-conference teams play just twice during a long NBA season, it's hard not to read at least a little something into major matchups. Which brings us to Thursday, when the Miami Heat traveled to Oklahoma City, and slammed the Thunder 103-81.

The top individual battle, too, was intriguing, with LeBron James (33 points on 22 shots) getting the better of sudden MVP favorite Kevin Durant (28 points on 22 shots) -- all despite leaving with 5:50 left after getting smacked in the face while dunking on Serge Ibaka. The Heat's performance was so overwhelming, it overshadowed the return of Russell Westbrook, out since Christmas with a knee injury (Westbrook scored 16 points in 24 minutes, but had four turnovers to just two assists). Let's not forget, though, that a Westbrook-less Thunder smashed Miami 112-95 in South Florida less than a month ago.

  • What do you make of the Heat's 103-81 win at OKC in Russell Westbrook's return?

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  • Which team would win a seven-game series on a neutral court?

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  • What do you make of the NBA MVP race?

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  • When will Russell Westbrook return to form for the Thunder?

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  • Which is your NBA Finals matchup?

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  • Which team will win the NBA championship?

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Kevin Durant's nickname?

Can we all agree that you're not allowed to just up and give yourself a nickname? The whole point of a nickname is that it reflects what other people think of you, not what you think of yourself. That's our main objection to Kevin Durant saying he likes "The Servant" as a nickname for himself. Durant told Grantland's Bill Simmons of the nickname during a recent interview, saying he didn't like the nickname "Slim Reaper." It's too bad, honestly. You'd think a variation of "Grim Reaper" would come up more often as a sports nickname.

  • Which of these is the best nickname for Kevin Durant?

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  • Are you OK with players coining their own nicknames?

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  • Should the Thunder reduce Kevin Durant's minutes (38.2 minutes per game) once Russell Westbrook comes back?

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  • Which team will win tonight's game in Oklahoma City?

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Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty Images

NBA second half predictions

Mathematically, the NBA passed its halfway mark some time ago. Unofficially, the second half of the season doesn't begin until after the All-Star break. And with that behind us, it's time to look ahead. Will the Indiana Pacers finally end the Miami Heat's reign as Eastern Conference champions? Will the Oklahoma City Thunder -- with Russell Westbrook coming back Thursday, according to Kevin Durant -- rule the West and, ultimately, the league? Cast your votes below!

? More: Thoughts on the NBA All-Star Game?

  • Which team will win the Western Conference?

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  • Which team will win the Eastern Conference?

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  • Which team will win the NBA Championship?

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  • Assuming one of these teams misses the playoffs, which will it be?

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  • Will the Knicks (20-32; 2.5 GB 8th in the East) make the playoffs?

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  • Which of these teams would be more dangerous in the playoffs?

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  • Which of these teams has the best chance of making a surprise trip to the Eastern Conference finals?

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  • Who will win NBA MVP?

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Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

Are Thunder NBA title favorites?

With the NBA All-Star break fast approaching, the Oklahoma City Thunder sport the NBA's second-best record, but reign supreme atop John Hollinger's Power Rankings. They also own the best chance (24.5 percent) of winning the championship, according to Hollinger's Playoff Odds, better even than the 40-11 Indiana Pacers (20.8). Much of this has come without star Russell Westbrook (Kevin Durant's insane play has something to do with it). Is OKC your title favorite? Does it need a healthy Russ to go all the way?

  • Which team will win the NBA championship?

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  • Which will be the 2014 NBA Finals matchup?

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  • Can the Thunder win an NBA title without a healthy Russell Westbrook?

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  • What do you make of the NBA MVP race?

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