The NBA Finals tips of Tuesday night as the Miami Heat travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder.
The series features plenty of young star power on two teams that beat older, more experienced teams in the Conference Finals.
How They Got Here
Even thought the Heat and Thunder are the two seeds in their respective conferences, they are arguably the top two teams in the league. The Bulls could stake that claim if Rose was healthy, but with him out the Heat are clearly the East’s top team.
The Heat were up 2-0 in their series against the Celtics, but after losing three in a row were down 3-2 with Game 6 in Boston. They countered that with two easy wins over Boston to win the East for the second year in a row.
The Spurs finished the year with the top seed in the West, but the Thunder proved they were the better team in their series against them. After going down 2-0 in the series, the Thunder ended the Spurs’ 20-game win streak by winning four games in a row of their own to take the series. This included a win on San Antonio’s home floor, which was the Spurs’ only home loss of the postseason.
The main story of this series, and of the entire postseason, is LeBron’s quest for his first title. He has been the best player of the entire postseason thus far, and should be as he was the MVP of the regular season. He has averaged 30.8 points a game, which tops Kevin Durant’s 27.8.
Being a lifelong fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers, I personally do not enjoy the idea of LeBron James winning a title. However, I do respect the fact that he is arguably the best basketball player on the planet. Disregarding his individual accomplishments and skill is unfair to him, and everyone around the country, even those who hate the Heat, must respect his abilities.
Key Players and Matchups
LeBron will lead the Heat along with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, but others will need to step up for Miami. It is the same old story, but if one or more of the members of the Big Three has a subpar night, other Heat players must have solid games.
Mario Chalmers and Shane Battier are two that must score in double digits, along with Udonis Haslem. Haslem and Chalmers have been reliable, but Battier has not been consistent enough this postseason.
LeBron will be matched up with Durant while Wade will be against Thabo Sefolosha. Both Thunder players are great defenders, which makes the rest of the Heat roster more responsible to put up decent point totals.
The Thunder have the advantage in this series for the same reason why the Mavericks had the advantage a year ago; they are an actual team. With someone like James Harden coming off of the bench, the Thunder have a deep team compared to the Heat. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins provide threats in the post, compared to only Chris Bosh for the Heat. Bosh will likely be guarded by Ibaka, due to his athleticism, which makes his job that much harder.
I have a tough time picking against the Thunder.
Nothing against the Celtics, but if the Heat struggled with them then they will have a much tougher time against the Thunder, who won four straight against the Spurs. Durant, Westbrook, and Harden combine to make a more effective Big Three than that of James, Wade, and Bosh.
The Heat need to make some changes for next year, as I do not see them defeating the Thunder in this series. I see the Thunder winning in six games.
Now it’s your turn: