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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NBA Finals Preview: Thunders vs. Heat Series Guide 

NBA Finals Preview: Thunders vs. Heat Series Guide

special to the Clarion Content
from The Eastside Perspective


Doesn't this all sound a bit like it was made for television? The stories leading up to this coveted Finals series, the high drama, and the fact that the two teams that made it all the way to these 2012 NBA Finals are, now at the end of the season, the two most intriguing teams to watch?

Flash back to this Christmas - December 25, 2011 - many were saying that this Heat vs. Thunder Finals series was a shoe in. The major headline? None other than who will be the better overall player when all is said and done: Kevin Durant or LeBron James.

Flash back now to July 8, 2010, the day that changed the course of the career of one LeBron James.

The moment James stated his decision on national television was the immediate moment that he undertook such high expectations - certain feats that he is starting to show that he can do. But can he, Wade, and Bosh get the monkey off of their back? Time will tell.

On the other side you've got this team of youth, in OKC, that has proven time and time again that they carry the clutch gene when the game is on the line. Winning in San Antonio is no easy task folks - in fact, in these playoffs, there is only one place harder to play... Oklahoma City.

Clearly the Thunderous scoring trio of Durant, Westbrook, and Harden poses more of an offensive threat yet not to say that they are the better 'big three.'

I would have to say that OKC's interior may be a big factor in the series. Miami had a tough time guarding KG early on in the Conference Finals however when they went small they were able to get up and down the floor and play "Miami Heat Basketball." An advantage that they may no carry into these Finals.

Will Miami hang their first banner since 2006 and for the first time in the "Big Three" era? Or can Oklahoma City - the favorite with home court advantage - silence the Heat and hang their second banner in franchise history and first in Oklahoma City?

Let's dive right into the dissection of the match up:



Russell Westbrook vs. Mario Chalmers:

Matt's Advantage: Russell "I'm no fashion adviser" Westbrook

Stephen's Advantage: Russell "No Lenses" Westbrook

I recently read an article on the B/R, that said Mario Chalmers is a top 15-20 PG in this league, that's ludicrious. Chalmers is a good player, no doubt, but he is not a top 15-20 PG. Westbrook will more than likely dominate this matchup. Westbrook's elite athleticism coupled with his deadly mid-range jumper, will be too much for Chalmers. He won't be able to sag off on Westbrook, like he did on Rondo, which I think will tire him out.

Thabo Sefolosha vs. Dwayne Wade:

Matt's Advantage : Dwayne "I'm sleeping with the refs" Wade

Stephen's Advantage: Dwayne "I don't show up until the 4th" Wade

Wade is going to be very aggressive in this series. He's coming off an awful sreies against the boys in green, and I believe he doesn't excatly want to play the role of Robin on this team. However, Thabo plays eilte defense and is coming off a series where he absoutely shut down manu giinobli AND Tony Parker. I wouldn't be surprised if Thabo holds Dwade to 20ppg on 30-35% shooting.



Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James:

Matt's Advantage: LeBron "Not 4...Not 5...Not 6..." James

Stephen's Advantage: Kevin "KD" Durant

THIS HAD TO BE THE BEST FINALS MATCHUP IN THE PAST DECADE! The best part of this matchup, is that they will actually guard each other. It's the two best players in the game, going head to head, in a epic battle for the Finals' trophy.



Kendrick Perkins vs. Udonis Haslem:

Matt's Advantage: Udonis "Thug-Life" Haslem

Stephen's Advantage: Kendrick "Perky" Perkins

Neither team has outstanding low post scorers, but both teams’ big men bring different things to the table.

Serge Ibaka vs. Chris Bosh:

Matt's Advantage: A Draw between "King Congo" and "Bosh Spice"

Stephen's Advantage: Serge “Iblaka”

The Thunder; Ibaka and Perk bring possibly the best defensive frontcourt in the league. I wouldn’t expect too much offensive production from the Thunder big men, but expect plenty of defense and toughness, similar to the Celtics frontcourt. Bosh and Haslem on the other hand are undersized PF’s playing the C position. They aren’t going to be called upon to guard legit offense scorers in the post, so their size shouldn’t hurt the Heat. On the offensive side of the ball, both Haslem and Bosh can make the mid-range shot. The only question is whether or not they can make that outside shot consistently to open it up for their superstars.


6th Man Matchup
Shane Battier vs. James Harden:

Matt's Advantage: James "Fear the Damn Beard" Harden

Stephen's Advantage: James "The Bearded Wonder" Harden

Harden has the clear cut advantage in this match-up. The Heat’s bench averages like 0.1 points per game. If the Thunder’s superstars, Westbrook and Durant, have trouble scoring, Harden comes in and injects the team with energy. If Lebron, Wade, and Bosh are struggling, who comes in to let some of the load off? Nobody.


Matt's X-Factor for the Oklahoma City Thunder: The play of the Interior (Serge Ibaka, Perk, and Collison)

Stephen's X-Factor for the Oklahoma City Thunder: Kevin Durant's defense on Lebron (Prince James dominated that Celtics series - KD will not to shut him down if they want to take the series)

Matt's X-Factor for the Miami Heat: The Clutch Gene (No Surprise here, their play in the 4th will decide the series)

Stephen's X-Factor for the Miami Heat: Norris Cole (Cole could make D-Fish work with his quickness and athleticism)



Matt's Prediction: Miami in 7

Stephen's Prediction: Thunder in 7


T-minus 24 hours.....

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