After a scare from the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Miami Heat have moved on to the NBA Finals for the second year in a row. While the Oklahoma City Thunder have reached the Finals for the first since relocating (formerly the Seattle Supersonics), after they won the last four
games against San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals.
The Thunder are a very young, but experienced, explosive team who, like the Heat, have three players that could be the primary scorer any given night. James Harden will have his hands full at the end of games when he will be forced to guard former Finals MVP Dwayne Wade. Russell Westbrook should be able to have his way on offense against Mario Chalmers, because even though he is an underrated defender he could not stay in front of Rondo in the ECF and Westbrook is a much better scorer (not passer though). After Chris Bosh’s huge performance in Game 7 he seems to have recovered from his abdominal strain, which is good for him because he will be matched up against one of the best blockers in the NBA in Surge Ibaka. The center position will be Kendrick Perkins against whoever Erick Spolstra decides to start that specific game.
The matchup that everyone is waiting for is three-time league MVP, LeBron James, against three-time scoring champion Kevin Durrant. People who don’t watch basketball or haven’t watched these playoffs will automatically assume that James will get the better of Durrant in these playoffs. However, Durrant is an extremely underrated defender and his superior length will no doubt bother James at times. Also, because of Durrant’s length he will be able to get his shot off whenever wants. If this matchup turns into a jump-shooting contest then the Miami Heat and their fans should very worried. I still give a slight nod LeBron just because he is an athletic freak of nature, but don’t be surprised if Kevin Durrant takes over this series.
The coaching matchup is interesting because the edge usually goes to the one with more advantage which would be Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra however has never been accused of “out coaching” one of his peers, he instead just relies on his teams extreme talent. Scott Brooks of the Thunder flat out got the better of Greg Popovitch who is one the greatest coaches of all-time in the WCF. Therefore I think that this matchup is wash because both coaches have things working for and against them.
The Miami Heat cannot win the Finals if Dwayne Wade plays like he did in the previous round against the Celtics. He is going to have to give the Heat at least 25-30 points a game. Expect the Thunder to put Sefolosha on Wade at the beginning of games who made Tony Parker into a non-factor. Wade will should have an easier time late in games if Harden plays shooting guard. If I was Scott Brooks I would go to a small line up of Westbrook, Sefolosha, Harden, Durrant and Ibaka to prevent Wade from going off, and double James when ever he penetrates. The Heat will also have to do a better job at making free throws because they have a hard enough time scoring as it is, they cannot give away points.
The Thunder’s offense and home court advantage are the reasons they are going to win this series in 6. I wanted to say that they would win in 5 but right now I have too much respect for LeBron after seeing him carrying his team the entire previous series he will likely win one game by himself. The Heat will slow the Thunder down to a point but it is too tall of a task for this team.
Tell us you thoughts on who will win this year’s NBA Finals.Follow @WSRJB