Before the season, if you predicted that the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat would meet in the finals, not too many people would’ve disagreed with you. Derrick Rose fans may have given you the side-eye. Kobe Bryant himself may have waved you off. But it was probably the most predicted finals before the season started. Personally, I wanted to see Miami vs. the LA Lakers simply because I wanted to see the LBJ/Kobe dynamic, but this finals would’ve been a close second. This series should be extremely good for the NBA.
That being said, both of these teams went through quite the path to get here. In the West, the Thunder conquered the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in an easy series before beating the big brother Lakers in five. Facing the league’s best regular season team, the Thunder lost the first two games of the Western Conference Finals. And then they went on to beat the San Antonio Spurs in four straight, entering the finals on a tremendous hot streak.
The Heat had a much different track. After easily eliminating the New York Knicks, the Heat stumbled against the Indiana Pacers before getting them out in six, and faced a game six elimination in Boston before LeBron James gave one of the greatest playoff performances in NBA history. Hell, he had to. I just about called him the Lyin’ King. Game 7 was just the icing on the cake.
Both teams faced adversity to get to the finals and both seem battle tested. These teams match up really well against each other. The Thunder were the most prolific scoring team in the regular season, while the Heat were fourth. The Heat gave up the fourth least points per game, while the Thunder gave up the tenth. The Heat earned the best point differential per game while the Thunder were second.
The biggest storyline of the series stars none other than LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Many fans will allow this series to determine who the best player in the league is. Both are do-everything players for their team. Durant led his team in scoring and rebounding while James led his team in scoring, rebounding, and assists. And when’s the last time that the two top players in the league went head-to-head in the finals? Shaq and Iverson in 2001? MJ and the Mailman in 1998? Jordan and Barkley in 1993?
It should be an entertaining series and if Bron and Durant decide to bring it, it could be really special.
Here are the predictions from the Popblerd staff:
Big Money: Thunder in 6
Quite simply, they looked great in the last four games against the Spurs. Plus, Durant/Westbrook (insert greater than sign) LeBron/D. Wade.
Mike S.: Heat in 7
Miami in 7, with a little help from the officials.
Mike A.: Heat in 7
Miami in seven. That way David Stern gets seven games on TV, lots of money to be made, and LeBron finally gets awarded his ring from NBA God Stern. Dallas ruined “the script” last year, Stern and his officiating Stormtroopers will make sure that doesn’t happen again.
Charles: Thunder in 6
This series will mark the beginning of a Russell/Chamberlain type rivalry (on a much, much smaller scale of course) between LeBron and Kevin Durant, as they battle over the next few years for best in the game honors. Games will be exciting to watch, but after splitting the first 4, Durant takes over and OKC wins games 5 & 6 In convincing fashion to take the title. Durant then shouts out Greg Oden while collecting series MVP trophy.
On a side note, LeBron and D-Wade appear on Dr. Phil after game 6, crying through their collective hollow, hipster specs.
Me? Bitter? Hell nawww
Stephen: Thunder in 5
As someone not embittered by the Celtics series, I say OKC in 5. The East has been perpetually anemic this season, and OKC just looked too strong in their win over the Spurs. The East finals were basically just a competition for second place.
GG: Heat in 7
Yes, I know my prediction means that the Heat have to win game 7 in OKC. I was learning toward taking OKC in 6 or 7 until I saw LeBron’s body language and silent assassin look in game 6. It’s a look we rarely see from him. He wasn’t nibbling on his finger nails. He wanted the basketball. And he demanded the basketball. It’s really all we want for him. I think it’s finally time for King James to win his first championship.