Lakers & Heat: State of the unions

Thursday showdown: Can L.A. make a statement? Will Miami play with passion?

Updated: January 16, 2013, 6:26 PM ET
By Ramona Shelburne and Brian Windhorst | ESPNLA.com

A few brave (cough), wise souls predicted that the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder would again be the class of their respective conferences. But the majority of us bit on the idea that the Los Angeles Lakers, after the trades for Dwight Howard and Steve Nash over the summer, would run away with the Western Conference, setting up the long-awaited LeBron James-Kobe Bryant NBA Finals.

Miracles do happen, although most of the recent ones involving sports happened on ice (Hey, L.A. Kings, ...

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