The NBA Finals are upon us. The Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat will face the Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder for basketball’s biggest prize. Will the Heat raise the first of the supposed eight championships James guaranteed or will the young, upstart Thunder bring the Championship to Oklahoma City and send the Heat back to Miami to ponder another titleless season?
At the beginning of the playoffs, I predicted the Heat would defeat the Thunder in six games. I am not going to abandon my prediction and will stick with the Heat in six. As I said previously, there is absolutely no excuse for the Heat not to win the NBA Championship this season. They added key pieces to the team that came up two wins shy of the title last season.
More importantly, the Heat seem calm and collected this time around. I don’t get the feeling that LeBron James is going to crumble under the pressure as he has done in previous years. I think James understands that Dwyane Wade will close late. James can focus on getting the Heat to the finish line with the knowledge that Wade can close the door. Chris Bosh also helps this team with spacing and is clutch. Simply put, despite the new pieces, the main cogs are much more used to playing with each other than last season.
As for the Thunder, they have home court advantage and are favored to win the title. They have high energy and a big three of their own. Unfortunately, Miami has the better big three. Kevin Durant may be the best player in the league, but Russell Westbrook and James Harden do not equal Wade and Bosh. The Thunder may have the players outside of each team’s respective big threes, but the Heat’s advantage in the form of the big three will make up the difference.
I’ve said it all season and will say it again, eventually the Thunder are going to be foiled by their reliance on the jump shot. Russell Westbrook has been a much better team player so far in the playoffs than I expected. However, you have to wonder if he will revert back to the shoot first point guard mentality when the bright lights of the NBA Finals are on him. If he does, the Thunder are in big trouble. Balance is key with Westbrook and he must have it. Durant needs the lion’s share of shots.
In the end, the Heat just have more talent plain and simple. Wade and James are two of the top players in the league. Bosh is an all-star and the player that keeps the offense flowing. The Thunder can be streaky due to their reliance on the outside jumper. They have a great team, but they are also young and lack the type of playoff experience Miami brings to the table.
Miami Heat over Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2