The Miami Heat won the last two games in a row against the Boston Celtics to clinch the Eastern Title and head to their second NBA Finals appearance in a row. Now the face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals, with the Thunder owning the home field advantage for starters. Until OKC kicked it up a notch and took out San Antonio, common thinking was that the veteran Spurs were the best bet to keep Miami from the title. But OKC may have the right stuff as well, as Miami can match it’s depth, and if two young players can match or at least nullify the talents of Lebron James and Dwayne Wade, it is Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
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Oklahoma City represents a certain way of doing things for a franchise. The NBA’s smallest market has a rabid fan base and they have spent several years meshing talent to build this finals team, which to all the league looks like they will be the team to beat for a few years.
The Heat on the other hand, went with a ‘big three’ lineup that promised to win handfuls of titles and earned the hatred of most everyone outside of Miami. But here they are in the finals again, and though I hate saying it, it would not be a surprise to see them favored in this series.
But looking at several key matchups, the OKC team is built in a perfect way to win in a seven game series.
For all the knocks on him, Eric Spoelstra, the coach of Miami, does a pretty good job handling the egos and the X’s and O’s responsibilities for the Heat. But under Scott Brooks, OKC has shown development, and as a coach Brooks has more options than Miami both as starters and coming off the bench.
The big matchups will be Kevin Durant and Lebron James, and then Russell Westbrook and Dwayne Wade. Though Durant has a completely different game than James, he has the potential to go point for point with Lebron which is big.
In Westbrook, who at times gets criticized for his selfish play, the OKC Thunder have a player that can match Wade as well. Wade is on the wrong side of 30, and he has been banged up all year, so OKC can not only nullify Wade’s stat line, it is possible that Westbrook could outplay Wade.
Chris Bosh was effective in Game 7 of the Eastern Finals, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the physicality of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins on the inside.
Which leaves no Miami answer for several of the OKC top guns, not the least of which is extraordinary 6th man James Harden.
Im going to take the OKC Thunder in six games for the series, let’s see what happens.