After a shortened season and many playoff surprises, it's almost that time of year again. Time to see which NBA team will reign national champion. From the West, you're looking at the young guns--the Oklahoma City Thunder. Fast, dangerous, passionate, and hungry to prove themselves to all the skeptics out there. From the East coast, after a hard-fought battle that went seven games, the Miami Heat were able to secure their second consecutive trip to the championship, and will look to finish what they were unable to last year.
Both teams are extremely talented and physical, but a number of factors will determine the victor in each individual contest. Defense, play off the bench, and shot selection will play a huge role in this series. After winning four straight games to down the red-hot San Antonio Spurs, the Thunder seem invincible, but they will certainly have their hands full with the Heat and the Big Three.
But the Thunder may have something the Heat don't--Serge Ibaka. Sure, Ibaka only delivers about 10 points per game, but it isn't uncommon to see him shut down the opposing teams' big man. Ibaka will be a presence in the paint who will certainly cause trouble for any Miami player who ventures towards the basket. Offensively, both teams are more than capable of scoring 100 points in a game, making defense (in my humble opinion) the factor which will determine the winner of this series.
Though quiet, Kevin Durant is a dominant offensive player who demands attention from any defense. Russell Westbrook and James Harden also pose a threat on offense, with Kendrick Perkins playing the post. Oh, and don't forget about Derek Fisher, because if you do, he'll hit a clutch three-pointer or get himself to the line for a pair of free throws.
Miami has a sharp starting lineup, but rushed shots and selfish play nearly cost them the series against Boston. The Heat looked very beatable on numerous occasions this playoffs, and LeBron, Wade, and Bosh will truly be tested when they have to face the young and seemingly indefatigable Thunder, led by Kevin Durant, who has averaged 27.8 ppg this playoffs, hitting over 50% of his shots and hauling in nearly eight rebounds per game.
My prediction--the Thunder proved themselves against the Spurs, and while the Heat have a dangerous squad, it doesn't seem likely that they'll be able to stifle the running, gunning Thunder. If they do intend to win, they'll have to play smart on all ends of the floor, and limit their turnovers, while sharing the ball and simply playing fundamental basketball.
Graduate student, writer, insurance producer, runner.