NBA Finals: Heat vs. Thunder

As heartbroken as I am to write this after C’s loss it must be done. But I will say, the Celtics fought hard and I truly hope last night wasn’t the last time us C’s fans see the original “Big 3” play together. I guess that is neither here nor there so let’s move on to what may be one of the best finals match ups in years. Finally, we have the two best players in the world going head to head in a battle to be the World Champions. You may say, “Well every year the best players match up”, wrong! If you look at the past few years in the NBA Finals, usually one of the best players makes it, sometimes neither of them. Last year it was LeBron and Dirk. Dirk was not one of the top two players in the league last year, he dominated the playoffs, but was certainly not top 2. The year before we had Kobe against the Celtics. No one on the Celtics was a top 2 player. And even the year before that, it was the same matchup. This year we get to see THE 2 best players in the world go neck and neck for the final prize.

Kevin Durant vs. LeBron james, arguably one of the best head to head match ups we have seen in a long time. Both teams come out of their respective leagues as the champs, and have been the favorites since the beginning of the season. The Thunder rolled through the West with relative ease. Sweeping the defending champion Mavericks in 4 games, beating Kobe and co. in 5 games, and won the Western Conference in 6 games, coming back from 2 down to take the series. The Heat have had a little tougher road getting through the East. In the first round the beat the utterly pitiful NY Knicks in 5 games (how that wasn’t a sweep is beyond me), they beat Larry Bird’s Pacers in 6 games, and finally beat the C’s in 7. The Thunder haven’t really been scared throughout these playoffs, whereas the Heat had a little scare put into them by the Celtics, having to go into the Garden in Game 6.

OKC has the ability to become a dynasty for years to come. They have all the pieces to help them dominate the NBA for quite a few years. When your best players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are only 23 years old, the future looks extremely bright. Arguably the MVP of the playoffs, Kevin Durant, has been spectacular. Durantula has averaged 28 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists throughout the playoffs, but don’t think he has been doing it by himself. The Thunder’s biggest threat is their depth. They have a loaded bench highlighted by 6th man of the Year, James Harden. It also helps when you have one of the best PG’s in the league as well in Westbrook. At 22 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds a game, Westbrook is always a threat to do anything on the court. He has scary athleticism when he drives to the bucket and can dunk on anyone. The most important players on the Thunder are neither of those two though, they are Serge Ibaka and James Harden. Harden, who comes off the bench, would start on any other team in the NBA, but because of the lineup the Thunder he has to be the 6th man. He comes in and is an immediate spark. Harden is a matchup problem for most role/bench players that he is usually matched up against. One thing about Harden is that he always goes left. It doesn’t matter if everyone is in his way going left, he is shooting a left handed layup. It’s almost like Rondo never using his left, it’s that constant not using the other hand. Harden helps Durant and Westbrook by spreading out the floor. He has a solid 3-point shot, shooting 45% in the postseason. Ibaka is a whole ‘nother story. Ibaka is going to cause some problems for the Heat because as we all know the Heat can’t shoot the outside shot very well. They rely heavily on attacking the rim and finishing above the rim. Ibaka will make that a tough task, he averages 4 blocks a game and countless changed shots. He will be able to disrupt D-Wade’s drives as well as LeBron’s. Which is something that the Thunder will need to do consistently to help them gain an advantage.

Is it finally time for LBJ to get a ring? Will he finally get that monkey off of his back? I don’t know but I sure know he is going to come in prepared and won’t let what happened last year happen again. LeBron has come into these playoffs with a vengeance. It is crazy to me that people think that he hasn’t been playing well, what are you on meth? LeBron has been averaging 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists per game! Those are absurd numbers, yet people are doubting him. In Game 6 against the Celtics, possibly his biggest/most important playoff game he has ever played in, he was Superman like. He had 45, 15, and 5 and shot 73%. Incredible. I am ready to see a LeBron I haven’t seen yet. One that has a little chip on his shoulder, one that truly wants the ring. He won’t do it alone though. With the likes of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, LBJ will have help. In Game 7 against the C’s, Bosh was spectacular. Single handily broke the Celtics spirits with his shooting. And Dwayne Wade has been no bum, although he has gotten off to slow starts, Wade has been a force to be reckon with. Countless drives and acrobatic finishes have been in his highlight reel throughout the playoffs. I believe the two biggest keys for the Heat will be two players that are not in the Big 3. Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers. Two outside shooters, who if they are knocking down shots, can kill teams and help lift the Heat. Battier is also one of the best on-ball defenders in the Association, I don’t know if Spoelstra will place him on KD, but Battier will be able to defend James Harden. The Heat matchup well everywhere except for in the paint, hopefully they will be able to make up for that with their on-ball defense.

This series has dramatics written all over it. I envision big shot after big shot, and big play after big play. There are too many stars in this series for it not to happen. The key to the entire series will be the defense of both teams. We all know that both teams can score and score at will. It will be the first team that can buckle down and get stops that will win this series. I love the Thunder in this one and I’d love to see a dynasty in the making. I’m taking the Thunder and LBJ will have to hear it from fans for another year.

  • Thunder in 6
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NBA Playoffs: Western Conference Finals

And here we are! It is now time that we crown a Western Conference champion. The Western Conference has been much more exciting than the Eastern Conference this entire year. One reason is that it was a toss up for who could win it. In the East most people, if not everyone, had the Heat winning it with ease and that was the consensus. In the West there were many teams that could have made a run at it. You had the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers, CP#, Blake Griffin and the Clippers, and you could have even thrown the tough, athletic Grizzlies in there. But there were always two favorites that stood out among the West, and they are both meeting in the Western Conference Finals. The #1 seed San Antonio Spurs bring experience and teamwork to the battle, as the #2 seed OKC Thunder bring youth, athleticism and 2 superstars to the battle, but this series won’t be a battle, it will be a war.

The San Antonio Spurs road a long winning streak at the end of the regular season into the #1 slot, and that streak continues today. The Spurs have won 18 of their last 21 games, which is extremely impressive for a team of their age. The Spurs may not be the youngest team (average age: 30 years old), but they bring an experience and team oriented style that has succeeded throughout the year for them. The Spurs roster has 6 players that have played in a conference championship/NBA Finals series (Duncan, Parker, Ginobli, Diaw, S. Jackson, Bonner). The Thunder have 1 (Derek Fisher). The Spurs continue to be lead by PG Tony Parker who is averaging (18, 7, 3), but he is not the only player playing well. Future HOF Tim Duncan has been holding his side of the deal as well, averaging (17,9,3). Stud 6th man, Manu Ginobli, has been bringing energy as well as scoring off of the bench for the Spurs. A big advantage that the Spurs may have in this series is sitting or standing at the top of the bench. His name is Gregg Popovich. The NBA’s Coach of the Year this year, has been leading this Spurs team throughout the playoffs and has led them to this great record in the last 20 games. Known for his short responses and stonewall demeanor, Popovich now needs to get ready to face the best duo in basketball this Sunday.

Durant and Westbrook, Westbrook and Durant, whichever way you put it, it works. The OKC Thunder have been on a roll throughout the playoffs, defeating two former champions, easily. The Thunder were able to sweep the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, and rollover the LA Lakers, 4-1. The Thunder now need to get ready for their best opponent throughout the playoffs and possibly throughout the season, the San Antonio Spurs. The key for the Thunder will be to keep feeding their two thoroughbreds, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Both have been fantastic throughout the playoffs, and they will look to continue what they have already ben doing. Durant has been the star, averaging (28,8,4), and hitting big shot after big shot. Whether it was the game winning shot in Game 1 over the Mavericks, or the go ahead 3-pointer over the out reached hand of Metta World Peace in Game 4 versus the Lakers. Not to be overshadowed, Russell Westbrook has also been fantastic. Westbrook is the man who gets the Thunder going, physically and emotionally. He has averaged (24,5,4) through this postseason and looks to continue his success against the Spurs. Although those two have been the leaders for the Thunder we can’t leave out a few players that have helped the Thunder dominate this years playoffs. James Harden, the 6th Man of the Year, brings just about everything you can bring off the bench. Not only does he score, he is able to distribute the ball and guard just about anyone defensively. And if we are talking defense we are talking both Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka. These two were able to shut down the top front court in the entire league in Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. Their length and size help them rebound the ball, block shots and disrupt shots all over the defensive end. Ibaka is averaging 6 rebounds and 5 blocks in the postseason and Perkins is averaging 6 rebounds and 2 blocks, but stats don’t show just how important these two are to the teams success.

We have some great match ups in this series. We have arguably the 2 best PG’s in the NBA going at it in Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook. The key to this match up will be who will be the better defender between the two. If one or the other isn’t all there defensively, they will get torched. Parker and Westbrook are the two players that get their respective teams going. If either one of them can get going, the opposing team may be in trouble. Another great matchup will be how both front courts handle each other. It seems that Ibaka will more than likely be guarding Tim Duncan, and I’m interested to see how Duncan handles Ibaka’s length and quickness. The most intriguing and important match up of the entire series will be the two 6th men, Manu Ginobli and James Harden. These two players are the keys and X-Factors for their teams and who ever can play better will be able to help their team get important victories.

I am very excited to watch this series because we are bringing together two different styles of basketball. The Spurs are a slow it down, team-oriented, move the ball around offense, whereas the Thunder like to get the ball to their scorers and see what they can do. As always this game will be one on the defensive side of the ball. Both teams are able to score, but the winner will be the team that is able to defend. The Spurs have experience and excellent basketball I.Q., but I believe that the youth and athleticism of the Thunder will wear down the Spurs later in the series. But don’t get me wrong, this series won’t be a short one.

  • Thunder in 7

Dates/Times/Locations of Games

Game 1

Sun 5/27
8:30 PM ET on TNT @ Spurs

Game 2

Tue 5/29
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Spurs

Game 3

Thu 5/31
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Thunder

Game 4

Sat 6/2
8:30 PM ET on TNT @ Thunder

Game 5

Mon 6/4
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Spurs

Game 6

Wed 6/6
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Thunder

Game 7

Fri 6/8
9:00 PM ET on TNT @ Spurs