Well this matchup should have NBA fans salivating:  James, Wade, and Bosh vs Durant, Westbrook, and Harden.  Going into the playoffs, I had San Antonio vs. Miami.  I thought the Thunder were one year away from reaching the finals.  Now after beating the Spurs in four straight games after the Spurs won 20 straight, it’s shifted the Thunder as the favorites to win it all.  After Derrick Rose went down with a torn knee, it looked like Miami was a shoe in for the Finals, but the Heat had a deal with a injury of their own, losing Chris Bosh with an abdominal strain for the majority of their series against the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics.  But they came up big winning two straight against the Celtics, with the returning Bosh having the biggest impact, going 3-4 on his 3 pointers in Game 7.  Now it’s time to start the breakdown.

Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Mario Chalmers

Although he struggled in the Conference Finals, averaging 18 points on only 38% shooting, he’s actually shot pretty well in the playoffs, meeting his season average of 46%.  He will be facing off against one of the best team defenses, and Westbrook has been known for having a fair number of turnovers and low number of assists.  He did become more of a pass first point guard in his series with the Spurs and that showed, averaging 2 more (7.3 apg) assists than he had in the 2 previous series and the season.  For all the talk there is about the Heat not being clutch, you can’t include Mario Chalmers in that conversation.  He’s without a doubt their most consistent 3 point shooter, and if he’s open, it’s money every time.  Although he’s usually the fourth option on his team, Chalmers is more than capable of coming up with a 20 point game.  He also does a great job of cutting through defenses, usually ending up in a floater or easy layup.  So who wins this matchup.  It’s has to be Westbrook, just for his athleticism alone.  He’s more inconsistent than Chalmers, but when he’s hot, there’s no stopping him.  Winner: Thunder

Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefolosha vs. Dwyane Wade

It’s seems obvious that I should be picking Wade.  In his series with the Celtics, Wade was terrible in the first half, averaging just over 6 points.  He’s played well in every second half, but that level of inconsistency can not and will not work against the Thunder, where you will need all the points you can get.  I wouldn’t be surprised his struggles in the first half continue, because Sefolosha will be guarding him.  Scoot Brooks decision to have Sefolosha guard Tony Parker was the key reason why they won four straight against San Antonio.  He took away the Spurs pick and roll offense.  He made Parker take jump shots.  He’s their best perimeter defender, and he’s a decent three point shooter.  But Wade doesn’t need pick and rolls to cut through a defense, and as long was Wade attacks the basket and avoids shooting 3 pointers, it may be Sefolosha’s toughest assignment ever.  Winner: Heat

Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James

Here’s the main event.  The matchup every NBA fan is dying to see.  The 3 time scoring champ vs. the three time MVP.  Kevin Durant and LeBron James are the two best players in the NBA, not 2 of the best.  THE BEST.  Durant can score from anywhere.  He prefers going for the jump shot, but he’s proven he’s not afraid to take it to the basket.  James has improved his post up game dramatically and is at his best when he attacks the rim, but when he’s on, he can hit it from anywhere.  So how do these two compare.  When it comes to field goal percentage, I have them at even.  Yes James is 4 percentage points higher than Durant, but you have to take into account that Durant has taken nearly 200 more 3’s than James.  While both have a good 3 point %, James has struggled hitting 3’s in the playoffs (28%) while Durant is just below his season average (36%).  So I would give the perimeter shooting to Durant, while I give the post up, close range shooting to James.  One clear advantage Durant has over James is free throw percentage.  Durant has always been a consistent free throw shooter, shooting 87% while James has been inconsistent, shooting only 72%. James does have the advantage when it comes to passing the ball.  Durant has proven to be capable of making a great pass, but James is at a whole other level.  I’m talking Magic Johnson level of passing.  He’s doubled the amount of assists of Durant in the regular season and just edges Durant in the playoffs, but when you take into account that James pretty much had to carry the Heat in their series win against the Celtics, it isn’t surprising that his assist numbers are down from his seasonal average.  Each are great rebounders, so another push.  In the end, I would have to give the victory to James due to his defense.  He may be the best one on one defender in the league.  While Durant has improved his defense dramatically, James is just so much better in my eyes.  Durant will have the chance to prove me wrong, and I can’t wait for the result.  Winner: Heat

Power Forward: Serge Ibaka vs. Chris Bosh

I can only assume that Chris Bosh is healthy enough to start for the Heat, because he’ll need to.  The Heat can’t start Shane Battier at Power Forward like they did against the Celtics, because the Heat would get destroyed on the boards against the front court of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.  Serge Ibaka is the Thunder’s biggest defensive threat.  He was my pick for defensive player of the year.  He also has developed a decent mid-range jump shot.  But when it comes to Power Forwards with a great jump shot, Chris Bosh is one of the best.  He even turned that great mid range jump shot into a great long range jump shot, hitting 3 huge 3 pointers in game 7 against the Celtics.  I think this will be the key position in the series.  I wouldn’t be surprise if Bosh stays in that corner the whole series, because it forces Ibaka to move away from the paint, allowing James and Wade to attack the basket.  Winner: Heat

Center: Kendrick Perkins vs. Udonis Haslem

It’s anyone’s guess who Erik Spoelstra will have starting at center for the Heat, so I’ll go for the best option, which is Udonis Haslem.  Haslem has stepped up in wake of Bosh absence, averaging nearly 10 rebounds a game.  Similar to Bosh, he can also stretch out a defense due to his great mid range jump shot.  Kendrick Perkins is just one of those guys who’s presence on the court isn’t based on his stats (only 6 rpg and 5 ppg in the playoffs).  He’s the enforcer of the team.  He gives them there edge.  But in this matchup, numbers overtake aura.  Winner: Heat

Bench: James Harden, Derek Fisher vs. Shane Battier, Mike Miller

When talking about bench players, I have to start with the Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden.  He’s just been killing it in the playoffs, especially against the Spurs, where he went 14-23 on 3 pointers.  That’s insane.  Also, let’s not forget who finished off the Spurs in game 6.  Not Durant.  Not Westbrook.  It was Harden.  At just only 22 years, Harden has already become one of the great clutch shooters in the game.  Maybe he got some of his clutchness from Mr. Clutch himself, Derek Fisher.  His numbers aren’t big, but he wasn’t brought to the Thunder for his numbers.  His five championship rings are the reason.  That and his great clutch shooting.  I thought going into the season that Shane Battier was the final piece the Heat needed to win a championship.  He’s a terrific defender, a great three point shooter, and he’s not afraid to take balls to the face, I mean take a charge.  Sorry, my Duke hate is rubbing off on this article.  Battier’s been inconsistent throughout the playoffs.  He really only shoots threes.  He sho well for the Heat in Game 7 against the Celtics, shooting four 3’s.  Mike Miller is in the same situation as Battier.  He lives and dies on the 3.  Miller is noticeably playing with a bad back, but he’s still a great rebounder and 3-point threat.  I’m trying to make a case from Battier and Miller, but this one’s easy.  Winner: Thunder

Coach: Scott Brooks vs Erik Spoelstra

Both are great young coaches who will only get better with more experience, but I have to give the edge to Brooks.  He made the key move in Game 3 to have Sefolosha guard Parker and the Spurs couldn’t counter it.  Spoelstra, changes his starting center constantly (Turiaf, then Anthony, then Haslem), but none of them really made any significant difference and I have to look at final shots.  Thunder made them, Miami didn’t.  Winner: Thunder


Thunder currently are the top scoring team in the playoffs, averaging 102 points a game, while the Heat are fourth with 96 points a game.  Both run the offense through their three best players, but the difference is movement.  The Thunder like to move the ball around while the Heat stick with isolation with James or Wade.  Therefore, Winner: Thunder


This could be one of the fastest moving Finals in history, because both teams like to move on the run.  Both teams have great individual defenders (Ibaka and Sefolosha for the Thunder, James and Wade for the Heat).  But no team will make you pay more for a turnover then Miami, and the Thunder turn the ball over a lot.  Winner: Heat


This one’s easy.  Oklahoma City fans are insane for their team, while Miami crowds suck and hardly make any noise if it’s not an alley opp.  Winner: Thunder

Guess what.  A tie.  Guess I’ll have to break it.  I have to base it on how they’re playing now.  The Thunder have just been better throughout the whole playoffs, while the Heat have been inconsistent.  Yes, Bosh’s injury has been a big reason why, but even with Bosh in the lineup, Miami’s offense can look just terrible at times.  Who will win will ultimately depend on how Russell Westbrook plays.  I’ve said this over and over again: Westbrook is a great guard, but not a great point guard.  He has a tendency to turn the ball over a lot, and the Heat thrive off of that.  He needs to take care of the ball and use his athleticism to get past Chalmers and take it to the basket instead of relying on jump shots.  It will also depend on how often Durant guards James.  Pierce was consistently in foul trouble because he had to guard LeBron.  Durant is a better defender than Pierce, but you know James will be in attack mode if Durant’s guarding him.  This will ultimately boil down to who has the better team.  Miami may have 3 of the top four players in the Finals, but the Thunder have the better team overall.  Therefore, I have the Thunder in 7.  Will be an epic series, and I know I will have many sleepless nights, especially since I have to wake up at 3:30 am for work.  But it will be worth it.