This is the NBA Finals that I openly thought would happen since pretty much the beginning of the season. I admittedly wavered on the Thunder when they fell behind 0-2 to the Spurs, but they made an amazing comeback, and pulled the impossible by beating the Spurs four games in a row. The Thunder have looked more impressive then the Heat, who have fallen behind at some point in their last two series. This is going to be a great matchup, and one that I anticipate we will see again down the road. Let’s dive in alittle deeper.
How the Heat Can Win: This is basically a matchup of big three vs big three. When you considered that its two guards and a forward for the Thunder vs one guard, a swing, and a forward for the Heat, I give the slight edge to the Thunder there. I’ll talk about that in my Thunder section. It’s cliche, and easy to say, but it really comes down to Lebron James. For the most part, he’s the consensus best player in the game. It’s now no secret that he’s not a closer, but he still has to be the best player on the court for most of the game for the Heat to win.
Dwyane Wade has to be healthy, or at the very least, play like he’s healthy. I’ll be very interested to see both who the Thunder put on him, and who they choose to have him guard. My guess is they put him on Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is too athletic for Chalmers. They may even consider a big line up where Wade plays point, with Battier out there to cover Durant while Lebron takes Westbrook. This does cut down a bit on their speed edge, but against the Thunder, that edge is must smaller then it is against most.
Lastly, there’s Chris Bosh, who’s not 100%. He clearly has to be big on offense, but I think it’s more important that he keeps guys like Westbrook and Harden out of the lane. The Thunder have no problem matching you shot for shot, but if they have a cold night, that’s the best way to beat them.
Lastly, the role players obviously have to step up. Chalmers missed some big wide open three pointers against Boston. He has to hit those. Same for Mike Miller and Shane Battier when they are on the court. And lastly, Joel Anthony can’t let Serge Ibaka and/or Kendrick Perkins be scoring threats. If they are scoring on top of rebounding, the Thunder are nearly impossible to beat.
How the Thunder Can Win: Here’s the lineup I put on the floor if I’m Scott Brooks. PG: James Harden. SG: Russell Westbrook. SF: Tafo Sefolosha PF: Kevin Durant. C: Serge Ibaka. Why do I say this? Because the Miami Heat will not beat you with their size. You don’t have to worry about Joel Anthony averaging a double double. This way, you put Sefolosha(your defensive specialist), on D-wade, you give Westbrook a shot at Lebron, and you let Harden and Durant help out on drives. Make Bosh beat you with his jump shot. If he’s hitting them, then adjust. But make him prove he’s 100%.
The fact is, one person on the floor is going to kill the Heat. You have to assume that they put Lebron on Durant. Durant is too fast for Battier. He could be a temporary solution, but long term, you have to put the NBA First Team All Defense player on the best scorer in the game. Period. From there, you can rotate Wade on Westbrook and Harden, but then who guard the other? Chalmers? Battier? Don’t think so. James Harden proved against San Antonio this is truly a 3-headed monster. You have to respect all three.
One quick note. It can’t be overemphasized how young this team is. Kevin Durant: 23. Russell Westbrook: 23. James Harden: 22. If these guys stay together, there’s no reason that this team won’t win 5-6 titles. Ok back to the series.
Serge Ibaka is going to be a key guy. He has to own the middle. Ibaka loves to play defense. He loves it more then Durant loves a wide open three. He will take on the responsibility of shutting down Bosh, and I think he will be successful in more games then not.
My Prediction: For the first few months of the season, I thought the Heat would beat the Thunder in the Finals. I thought OKC was ready to make the step to NBA Finals, but wasn’t ready to take the final step. After watching these playoffs, I’m convinced they are ready. They have knocked off the last three Western Conference champions in a row, and just looked amazing in the Western Conference Finals.
I think the Thunder jump out to the big 2-0 lead at home. That crowd will be in a frenzy, and while I expect both teams to start cold in Game 1(take the under on the points btw. Lock that one up), I think the Thunder pull both out. I expect Miami to win game 3, and win one of two in 4 and 5. Not sure which order yet. Then the series comes back to Oklahoma City, and they close it out in 6. It might go to 7, but regardless, I can’t find a way that Miami wins this year. I just can’t. And here’s the scary part. This might be their best shot for the next few years. Not saying at all that it’s their “last” shot, but think about this. The Oklahoma City Thunder, are only going to get better. So yeah, I’m going with Oklahoma City in 6, and Kevin Durant passes Lebron as the best player in the NBA.
What do you guys think will happen? Let us know in the comments!