Oklahoma City in 7
In this all-weather-themed NBA Finals, the Thunder will triumphantly storm over the Heat in seven games. Sure, LeBron James just finished the Eastern Conference Finals playing some of the best ball of his career. Sure, LeBron James won his third regular season MVP this season. Sure, the Heat also have two All-Stars in Dwyane Wade, who finished the Eastern Conference Finals averaging 21-5-5, and Chris Bosh, who recovered from an abdominal injury just in time to drop 19 (clutch) points in a Game 7 victory.
But, the Oklahoma City Thunder have Kevin Durant, the league leader in scoring for the last three seasons who showed in the Western Conference Finals that he can score at will against anyone as the top-ranked San Antonio Spurs defense had no real answer for the Durantuala’s venomous scoring attacks. But Durant can’t do it all by himself! Oh that’s right the Thunder have an All-Star point guard in Russell Westbrook who learned to outplay Jason Kidd and Tony Parker in these playoffs. Let’s not forget about Sixth Man of the Year and beard enthusiast James Harden who can enter a game and just dictate the offense. The Thunder also have the league leader in blocks, Serge Ibaka, whose jumper seemed to be pretty on point against the Spurs.
All in all the Thunder’s depth will prove to be too much for the Heat. We can never count against LeBron but unfortunately for him, he has to hope Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem help him out. As these playoffs have shown, that sure is a lot of hoping.
KD35. Similar to Dirk last year, Durant is just in such a groove that he will be hosting up the MVP trophy along with the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The OKC Thunder’s home crowd. Down double digits in Game 6 against the Spurs, when most home crowds would be shaking their heads in disbelief, the Thunder faithful rose to the occasion and proved to be a big motivating factor in the Thunder’s come-from-behind win.
Meanwhile in Miami, Heat fans are notorious for showing up late and spending most of the game on their phones, which they are looking at through sunglasses. Compare that to the Thunder who have fans that literally break down in tears after their team makes it to the Finals:
Surprise of the series will be:
OKC Thunder co-owner Aubrey McClendon’s supermodel niece Kate Upton will be shown on camera a lot more than we expected.
OKC in 7
They will be closing it out at home. I’m in no way confident about it. I don’t like the Thunder’s unimaginative offensive sets juxtaposed against the Heat’s pressure defense, the fact that they have no Finals experience, and that they’re matched up against the best basketball player on the planet. But Kevin Durant is obviously no slouch, OKC throttled a very good Spurs team and they have home-court advantage, not to mention an enormous edge with Russell Westbrook at point guard.
Kevin Durant. It’s either going to be him or LeBron, depending on who wins the series. KD has gone 28-7-4 in the playoffs thus far.
LeBron looks like a new man this year, tirelessly and emotionlessly laying waste to everyone in his past, perhaps channeling Katniss Everdeen from a book geared toward young adults. Whatever works, he’s playing some of the finest ball of his career and looks nothing like the version that shrank in the spotlight last year. Oklahoma City is far better than Indiana or Boston, but if LeBron continues playing at such a high level, it might not matter who the opponent is.
Surprise of the series:
The bloom comes off the rose for a weary Dwyane Wade after he shoots 41 percent for the series.
Miami in 5
As much as the world wants to make this about LeBron’s ability or inability to handle the pressure of the Finals, let’s not forget: Kevin Durant doesn’t have a championship either, and he’s never been to the Finals. Neither has Russell Westbrook, James Harden or Serge Ibaka. Yes, Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins have been to this rodeo before, but they aren’t the guys OKC is counting on to deliver a championship performance. Say what you want about LeBron, but he’s been here before, and he’s not losing this time.
Mario Chalmers. He doesn’t have to outplay Westbrook, he just needs to be good enough to make Westbrook work.
Surprise of the series will be:
Defense. The spotlight will always be on how many points LeBron, Durant, Wade and Westbrook score. But the series will showcase amazing D by Thabo, LeBron, Perkins, Chalmers, Westbrook, Haslem, etc.
OKC in 6
They’ve already beaten the best team in the playoffs, and we’ve seen how they play at home. This team is overflowing with confidence. I have a suspicion the Heat don’t feel quite the same way.
Russell Westbrook. I’m the world’s biggest Westbrook apologist. I think his energy and athleticism will be huge in this series.
Thabo Sefolosha. We saw him do work on Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Now he will have to do the same on Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Surprise of the series will be: Dwyane Wade, in a bad way. I don’t know if he’s injured or slumping, but the man looks broken. I think he struggles.
OKC in 5
Yes, everyone expects and is looking forward to an epic battle that’ll end in a Game 7. However, the Thunder are more comfortable and confident than the Heat right now, especially since the Heat are the ones who have to deal with the pressure and their own inflated expectations.
Kevin Durant will win The Finals MVP because he’s destined to continue to serve LeBron James like he did several times last summer during the lockout.
The x-factor in this series will be Udonis Haslem. Not sure how much production to expect from Chris Bosh versus a much more physical and active Thunder frontline. Haslem isn’t fazed from these moments and must string together a few solid games defending the paint and knocking down timely jumpers.
Thabo Sefolosha will be the surprise of this series. The Thunder probably will play more small ball and Sefolosha’s defense on either Dwyane Wade or James will be critical for the Thunder’s success, so their big three can solely focus on offense during these stretches.