REGULAR SEASON RECORDS - Miami Heat (46-20) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (47-19)
POSTSEASON RECORDS - Miami Heat (12-6) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (12-3)
OPENING ROUND - Miami Heat defeat New York Knicks in 5 games to advance/Oklahoma City Thunder defeat Dallas Mavericks in 4 games to advance
CONFERENCE SEMI-FINALS - Miami Heat defeat Indiana Pacers in 6 games to advance/Oklahoma City Thunder defeat Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games to advance
CONFERENCE FINALS - Miami Heat defeat Boston Celtics in 7 games to win Eastern Conference Championship/Oklahoma City Thunder defeat San Antonio Spurs in 6 games to win Western Conference Championship
OFFENSIVE/DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (Points Per 100 Possession) - Miami Heat (Offense = 106.6, 8th)(Defense = 100.2, 4th), Oklahoma City Thunder (Offense = 109.8, 2nd)(Defense – 103.2, 10th)
SEASON SERIES – Miami Heat vs Oklahoma City Thunder (1-1)
March 25th: Oklahoma City defeats Miami 103-88 (Kevin Durant: 28 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists)
April 4th: Miami defeats Oklahoma City 98-93 (Lebron James: 34 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds)
This is the NBA Finals matchup that everyone wanted. With all due respect to the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs, the basketball world has been anticipating this confrontation for quite a while now.
It’s 2 of the most star-studded teams in the league going head-to-head.
It’s Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh vs Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
It’s the Miami Heat vs the Oklahoma City Thunder!
There are no underdogs. There are no Cinderella’s. These are (in the opinion of many) the 2 best teams in the National Basketball Association. In both Conference Final matchup’s, the younger legs of the Heat and Thunder withstood extreme challenges and outstanding performances by the veteran Celtics and Spurs in what could be considered the ultimate “passing of the torch”.
Without gutsy play and the determination and willpower to be a champion for both team’s, we may in fact have wound up with a San Antonio/Boston NBA Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from 2 games down to win 4 in a row against a Spurs team which hadn’t lost up until that point in the postseason. The Miami Heat overcame a 3-2 deficit by winning game 6 in Boston and then holding down home-court in the game 7 finale.
It’s CLEARLY going to be KEVIN DURANT vs LEBRON JAMES.
It’s the 3-time NBA scoring champion vs the 3-time NBA MVP. In my opinion, this series will determine who is the best player in the league. One of these 2 men will obtain their first NBA championship and vault above the other in the discussion for who is the better man.
A title for Lebron James would quiet down the haters substantially. The criticism would still be there, but if “The King” finally got a ring, his “decision” to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach would certainly look a lot better. This is the one accolade that has alluded him his entire career. He needs this more than anything else in this world. Even more so than his Thunder counterpart Kevin Durant.
If Durant were to win a ring in his first try to the Finals, not only would it validate his greatness, but it would bring up the question of how good this OKC Thunder team can be and if we have the makings of a “Dynasty” on our hands. Durant is only 23 years old. Winning a championship at his age would be quite the feather in his cap and ultimately would be one more shot against the career of Lebron James.
Kevin Durant: 27.8 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.3 blocks, 50.5% field goal percentage
Lebron James: 30.8 points, 9.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 0.8 blocks, 50.8% field goal percentage
THE MIAMI HEAT WILL WIN THIS SERIES IF they find a way to control Russell Westbrook. You can’t stop Westbrook completely, but you can prevent him from being a huge factor in this series. In a straight point guard matchup, Russell is leaps and bounds ahead of Miami’s Mario Chalmers. The only answer I see for the Heat is having Dwayne Wade guarding him for a majority of the series, but then that would leave a guy like James Harden constantly open on the wing. In the Thunder’s 15 playoff games thus far, Westbrook has averaged 21.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.6 assists. If the Heat don’t find a way to contain his explosiveness and prevent him from scoring easy baskets, they will find winning this series to be that much more difficult because of it.
THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER WILL WIN THIS SERIES IF they establish a dominant defensive front down low with Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Neither player will ever be mistaken for an offensive juggernaut in the paint, but what they lack in a low-post shot, they make up for in strong defensive play. Ibaka and Perkins have combined for 4.8 blocks a game in these playoffs. James and Wade will get their free lanes here and there, but they definitely haven’t faced a pair of 7-footers as intimidating and physical in the paint as these 2. Let your trio of powerhouse wings control the scoring and allow Kendrick and Serge to do what they do best by altering shots, grabbing rebounds and boxing out.
FUN FACT - This will be the first time since 1997 (Michael Jordan vs Karl Malone) that the top 2 vote-getters in the NBA MVP race (Lebron James vs Kevin Durant) have squared off in the NBA Finals.
GAME 1 at OKC, Tue. June 12, 9 p.m., ABC
GAME 2 at OKC, Thu. June 14, 9 p.m., ABC
GAME 3 at MIA, Sun. June 17, 8 p.m., ABC
GAME 4 at MIA, Tue. June 19, 9 p.m., ABC
GAME 5 at MIA, Thu. June 21, 9 p.m., ABC*
GAME 6 at OKC, Sun. June 24, 8 p.m., ABC*
GAME 7 at OKC, Tue. June 26, 9 p.m., ABC*
FINAL STAFF PREDICTIONS
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports