• October 6, 2022

NBA Finals Preview: OKC Will Trump Miami’s Big Three

The NBA Finals are finally upon us and, as many expected during this condensed season, youth has risen to the top. In a battle of elemental fundamentals, the much scrutinized Miami Heat will have their second shot at raising a banner in the East, while the ever-maturing and largely adored Oklahoma City Thunder will represent the West and attempt to realize their potential just three short seasons into the OKC era, leaving the city of Seattle to look on with mixed feelings.

Neither team got to the Finals without first weathering the last stand of a couple of the league’s elder statesman in Boston and San Antonio, but this is arguably the first time during this post-season where Miami and OKC playing a team built to run the floor with them. This should make for a series that could at times resemble a track meet more than a basketball game, and it makes for some interesting matchups on both ends of the floor.

The most intriguing matchup by far will pit everyone’s favorite second pick of a draft, Kevin Durant, *shakes head at Portland* against the world’s most reviled first pick, LeBron James. I’m curious how often these two will actually be guarding each other. With all respect to Shane Battier, I’m hard pressed to find a player more capable of at least making Durant work for his points than LeBron James.

Durant’s game seems to become more well-rounded by the season and this year he’s really been rising to the challenge defensively, making the effort to check the league’s elite. I doubt very much Scott Brooks will have Durant guard LeBron for any extended period of time, as Harden will likely draw Wade (and Sefolosha the daunting task of James) but down the stretch it would surprise me if Durant requests to guard James and (because LeBron struggles to do late it games) rises to the challenge.
Now, for all the flack that LeBron James takes for his inability to make (or even take) clutch shots late in games, let’s not forget whom we’re talking about here. I dislike the guy as much as the next sports fan with a pulse and a television, but he makes the term “beast mode” almost seem appropriate for use in sports journalism. The luxury of LeBron is his ability to be so dominant in games that the final minutes aren’t important. As if it was in doubt, LeBron’s performance in Boston proved that he’s more than prepared to step up in big game situations, but he’s yet to prove that he’s up for the big moment.

Dwayne Wade has proven himself capable of brilliance time and time again, James Harden is OKC’s most well-rounded (not best) player, and Westbrook is showing naysayers that his shoot-first-have-it out-with-KD-later point guard philosophy can be successful, but I think the most compelling matchup in the finals well be the Bosh/Ibaka matchup.

As fun as it can be to mock Chris Bosh’s emotional, don’t-dive-because-you-might-hurt-me attitude, he’s an invaluable cog in the Miami offense as their only post and mid-range scorer who compliments James and Wade perfectly. His ability to step out, board, and straight up make teams pay for over helping makes him Miami’s X-Factor. What’s scary is that he seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder for the first time in his career. Look out, he’s not just happy to be there anymore.

Serge Ibaka makes for some of the most highlight worthy defensive plays in the NBA, on top of that he’s really perfected a mid-range jumper that, during the Laker series, made Bynum and Pau look like second fiddles to the Perk-Ibaka tandem in the post. Given Miami’s lack of interior scoring, look for OKC to go small again as they did in San Antonio. His ability to check Bosh, patrol the paint, and hit open jumpers could pay championship dividends.

For all their differences in personnel, these teams are built to win in a pretty similar fast-paced fashion. Neither team is especially deep, with a roster centered around three scorers and a bunch of blue collar guys who know their respective roles, and this series could go either way and will be hotly contested. With that said, I give a slight, but distinct edge to the Thunder heading into the series. With the exception of Battier’s performance in game 7 of the conference finals, I’ve yet to see any of Miami’s gunners step up and consistently hit the shots afforded them by James and Wade’s penetration. I will say that Mario Chalmers’ play has been drastically undervalued, and he may be due for a coming out party similar to Jeff Teague’s rise to relevance against Derrick Rose last season, but as I mentioned before, Miami is facing a mirror image of themselves in the athleticism department. As a result, if this series becomes essentially a battle of “Big Threes”, OKC’s trio compliments each other a little better than the three amigos of South Beach.

On the OKC end, I think the Thunder learned a lot from the Spurs about how to play as a team and share the ball. To take such a shot to the mouth from San Antonio (with emphasis on Game 2) and recover so quickly (and thoroughly) is a testament to that team’s character and coaching. I kind of feel like the Thunder said “if you can’t beat them, join them” and their more unified offense makes them a scary team that I feel has one or two more dimensions than Miami that may prove to be the difference.

Thomas Policastro

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paulman
paulman
June 12, 2012 2:44 pm

Should be a great exciting Series which probably goes 6-7 Games..
Both Teams,Players and Coaches have shown perserverance, and calmness while being down on their previous Series
I think it gets down to the 4th/5th/6th & 7th Players on each Roster
Does OK Thunder players like Ibaka,Perkins,D Fisher,Sefolosha out produce
the Heat’s role players like Chalmers,Battier,Haslem & Miller ..

BirdoBeamen
BirdoBeamen
June 12, 2012 3:07 pm

OKC will win because of one man: SERGE M’FiN IBAKA. Expect him to have a HUGE series.

RealTalk777
RealTalk777
June 12, 2012 3:21 pm

Either way Miami will have their hands full..they can put Wade on Westbrook, but what about Harden, or vice versa…how the Heat decide to match up to those two will be key…I’d put Wade on Harden…and play Westbrook by ear depending on if he is hitting the jumpshot…Ibaka, is a beast, and I will minimize Bosh’s impact…But the Heat will most likely bring Bosh out to the perimeter like game 7 in Boston, trying to pull Ibaka away from the basket…

109876ers
109876ers
June 12, 2012 3:37 pm

lol its time the three kings were crowned….the thunder havent played any real competition…i mean comeon, the dallas mavericks are nothing special without some tyson chandler, and the lakers are just a shell of what they used to be…and dont get me strated on san antonio, biggest fake team in the leauge..idk how on earth they lasted as long as they did, but it speaks to the lack of good talent in the west when that old bunch lasted until the third round

109876ers
109876ers
June 12, 2012 3:40 pm

the heat smashed all their competiton, it wasnt even close. carmelo, one of the best scorers in league history, was a complete nonfactor against them, danny granger and a deep pistons team couldnt slow them down, and the battle tested celtics looked set to knock them out, but the heat showed just how powerful they really are with two furious rallies to win the series….KD is gettin KOed

BirdoBeamen
BirdoBeamen
June 12, 2012 4:07 pm

109876ers must be JON HART. What a clown. Come on here with your original name you bitch! Heat didn’t smash the Celtics and the Pacers gave them a good run but in the end just didn’t have enough. OKC is battle tested and will probably win this series in 5.

paulman
paulman
June 12, 2012 4:27 pm

To 109876ers
I am not sure whatPlayoff Series you were watching but both the Pacers and Celtics blew it versus the Heat and should have sent them packing..
And how you think the Western Confernce is lesser talent than Teams in the East shows your lack of Basketball knoweledge.. San Antonio a lucky team??
5 Teams in the Easter barley shot above 40% and struggled to score about 80 Pts a game (Bulls,76ers,Knicks,Celts,Hawks)

RealTalk777
RealTalk777
June 12, 2012 4:58 pm

LMAO – 7 game series wasn’t close….Two games that went into OT if I’m not mistaken? LOL…nah I think 109876ers is a 13 year old kid…did he actually say Danny Granger and a deep Pistons team? LOL

109876ers
109876ers
June 12, 2012 5:04 pm

paulamn stfu, you already proved you shouldnt be on a sports board like this when you didnt know who stam van gundy was.

but okkkk, i’ll go above my duties and educate you idiots on whats really been going on in these playoffs.

1. the pacers and celtics didnt blow it against the heat, they brought out the best in the heat…they forced the heat into a corner, and depseration brought out the sleeping beasts inside of them. now that said beasts have been unleashed, they wont be going back in their cages 🙂

2. and dont give me that BULL about chicago not being there. derrick rose is way overrated, and couldnt beat the heat last year. bulls even with rose werent much better than sixers, who beat them several times with rose in the lineup during regular season.

3. san antonio was waaay lucky to be where they were. they got matched up against a bad grizzly team that didnt use their best man zbo properly. then they beat another team in the second round (i admit i forget who it was, but they obviously werent anything special otherwise i would remember) all you have to do to beat those old spurs is run, and the thunder were the first to figure that out.

any other year when the rest of the league wasnt overwhelmed by the schedule, spurs wouldnt even be top five in the west

RealTalk777
RealTalk777
June 12, 2012 5:18 pm

Who’s Stam Van Gundy?

RealTalk777
RealTalk777
June 12, 2012 5:20 pm

um Spurs beat the Clippers…a pretty young team, that likes to run as well…I am not taking anything away from the Heat, the won the East and now its off to compete for the ultimate prize…But I also won’t take anything away from OKC…OKC is just too deep! The match ups do not favor the Heat, you’ll see tonight!

paulman
paulman
June 12, 2012 5:21 pm

Either 109876ers is Rod Thorn or Joe Banner…

109876ers
109876ers
June 12, 2012 5:22 pm

he’s a miserable human being that chases away his best players, but still has jobs within the nba. orlando fired him after they woke up and saw he was the reason howard wants out. miami got rid of him before to save their future of wade. he’s a bad guy, but i’ll be curious to see what franchise makes the mistake of having this guy chase away their stars

109876ers
109876ers
June 12, 2012 5:25 pm

oh yeah thats right, the clip show…no wonder i forgot about them, all they do is make espn top 10 reels, and never win. blake griffin figured out what happens when enters a contest against a legit opponent that isnt fixed (im talking about how the nba planned for him to win the dunk contest if you dont know)

chris paul is just as overrated as rose. he’s not a true difference maker, thats why the hornets never went anywhere with him, and thats why the clippers werent a true threat this year.

109876ers
109876ers
June 12, 2012 5:27 pm

and wth would make you think im rod thorn or joe banner?

paulman
paulman
June 12, 2012 6:09 pm

Probably because I could give a rat’s ass about any of the 3 of you…

109876ers
109876ers
June 12, 2012 6:30 pm

and yet you write comments about me? lol somebodyss stupid!

pheags88
pheags88
June 12, 2012 6:38 pm

If anyone has destroyed their competition so far its easily been the THunder and they have played WAY better talent up to this point then the EHat have…Thunder only beat the defending champs, Kobe and the best low post presence in the game today, and the Spurs who many thoguht were the best team in the league….Hmmm HEat beat the KNicks who havn’t been relevant in ages and who are made of star players who punch glass windows after games so they cant play in the rest of the series, the PAcers (really), and barely got by the CEltics who old and not nearly what they use to be I man come on they needed 7 games to beat the Sixers thats all you need to know…

Thunder in 6

EaglesSuck
EaglesSuck
June 12, 2012 7:31 pm

109876ers –
Dude STFU. Paulman was being sarcastic when he said who is Stan Van Gundy. You must be new here. F%$% troll. The fact that your Dumb a%^ thinks D. Rose is overrated you lose all your credibility as if you had any to begin with.

DCar
DCar
June 13, 2012 2:36 am

109876ers is either, 12 years old, Jon Harts alias, or one of the stupidest, f^#@ing human beings, to ever have been created, in the history of mankind! Go away, you deranged, immature, know-nothing, imbecilic troll, & take Jon Hart & Schiller with you. Just like your deranged rant on Van Gundy, you are out there! Get some help, before the white coats come for you.

DCar
DCar
June 13, 2012 2:41 am

BTW, 1 game down, 3 to go, for the frauds to choke on the big Braciola!!!! Where you at Jon “fraud” Hart? No pom-poms, no chest pumping, no Bron-Bron sack slurping?!? You front running, bandwagon jumping, fraud of a human being. You’re a joke, my man!

DCar
DCar
June 13, 2012 2:43 am

RT777, ROFL!! Funny f^#@ing posts!!!

DCar
DCar
June 13, 2012 2:45 am

THUNDER IN 4 OR 5!!!! ALL HAIL KING KEVIN!!!! THAT’S FOR YOU,
LIL BRON-BRON!!! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 12:05 am

YOU ARE ALL WITNESSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BRON BRON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NBA CHAMPION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DWADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT MORE IS THERE TO HATE ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU CANT!!!!!!!!! BRON BRON GOT FINALS MVP TOO HAHAHA!!!!!!! CONGRATS TO THE HOMIES DWADE BRON BRON!!!!!!! LET THE HATERS HATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHA I LOVE IT.. SHOUT OUT TO DCAR JAKEDOG PAUL PHEAGS THOMAS BIRDO AND ALL THE REST OF THE BRON BRON DWADE HEAT HATERS!!!!!

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 12:32 am

That man Bron Bron had a triple double in the finals hahaha thats freakin insane.. if you all don’t think hes the best in the league then your a flat out hater and dont know and appreciate the game of basketball. Hes changing the game as we speak!!! You are all witnesses!!!!

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 2:09 am

Hahahaha I love being right!!! In case you thought I was fallin off!!!! Hahaha!!!! I Love it!!!!

DCar
DCar
June 22, 2012 2:22 am

JH, WHO GIVES A RATS @$$, YOU FRAUD!?!? DON’T EVER MAKE A COMMENT ABOUT THE 76ERS AGAIN, OR SAY YOU’RE A FAN OF OUR TEAMS, BECAUSE YOU AIN’T!!! & YOU’RE A SORRY EXCUSE OF A HUMAN BEING! GO CELEBRATE SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! NOBODY ON HERE BUT YOU, CARES!!!

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 6:46 am

Hahaha! Dcar you have no choice but to take it! All the trash you talked about Bron Bron! You should be ashamed of yourself. Now your saying “noone cares but you on here” when you went out of your way to make derogatory comments at Bron Bron and homo references to me, now im not supposed to say anything? Your nuts. Youve been forced to swallow your words and i love it. All you can do is call names thats your claim to gcobb.com fame, you provide nothing else to this site, now Bron Bron is a champion and finals mvp and league mvp all in the same year omg how ridiculous do you look? Very, so much so that you should avoid further commenting on this topic buddy.

Gotta Luv It
Gotta Luv It
June 22, 2012 7:19 am

A lot of you cats on here hated on Miami and anyone who wanted them to win…face the fact that #6 showed you why many consider him the best basketball player in the game…defense..offense…rebounds…assists..dude straight dominated the finals
If you can’t respect that your whole perspective is whack….

109876ers
109876ers
June 22, 2012 7:43 am

@ Paulman & DCar

ya’ll laughed at me! ya’ll laughed at me! whose laughin now fools! ME! I told you two imbeciles all along the thunder played in WATERED DOWN OVERRATED western conf…i told ya’ll the three kings were pushed to the limits by the celtics and pacers, and were finally playing to their potential.

but would we listen? noooooo! maybe next time you two creeps will listen to someone who knows all about baloncesto…(me)

paulman
paulman
June 22, 2012 7:46 am

Congrats to the Heat and to LeBron for Winning the Championship.. They dominted the HEat last evening and had solid contributitions from Batttiers, Chalmers and Miller which was the difference… LeBron played a great Series and erased any doubts onwho the best all-around player is in today’s NBA..
OKIE City has a young team and a great core of players and will be back again I am sure the next couple of years.. I was hoping for a 6-7 Game Series to amp the pressure and excitmemet of th FInals, but the Heat and Lebron were on top of their game and the Thunder just did not play smart basekball when it counted.. Way too many jump shots and too many turnovers.. How many turnovers did Durant have in the 3rd Quarter last evening when bringing up the ball when it was still a clsoe game.. He’s should not be dribbling half-court and needs t ioget the ball to his guards and set up down low… He had a least 3-4 TO’s in whiturn turned a 7-8 Point deficit to 12-14 points and the game/sereis was over.. Harden shot poorly all Sereis long also..

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 1:10 pm

Good stuff Gotta Luv it and 109876ers, we have guys on this site that hate reality and hate when guys give there proclamations especially ones they dont agree with. As a result they try to ridicule you and like dcar does he spreads homo references at you all in an effort to discredit and convince other posters to feel the same about you and to make you look stupid. Well they look stupid today more than usual!!!

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 1:36 pm

And how about Russell Westbrick? 4-20 shooting in game 5. Dcar, pheags and others refuted what i said about this guy. Called me crazy, among other names when i said hes the biggest problem on the OKC Thunder and is not a guy i want on the sixers, period. Dropped 43 pts in game 4 and did not get his teammates involved was a one man show exactly what he wants to be and they loss the game! They did not win nor did he put his teammates as the supposed PG of this team, in position to succeed. Hes a cancer for that team. Idc what points he scores he has the great Kevin Durant on his team, a guy who has won 3 straight scoring titles you take more shots then him and your suppose to be the PG? You gotta be kidding me. Keep him far away from the sixers i want no parts. Let OKC deal with that..

jakedog
jakedog
June 22, 2012 1:39 pm

jon hart, you are “whack”, calling another man “bron bron” stfu, why the hell do you think dcar makes the homo references, I don’t give a crap about Lebron James, and if you want to talk about the all time greats, he has to win more than one to get in the discussion, just stifle it already

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 1:55 pm

Jakedoggy dog is another Bron Bron hater, now your taking offense to me calling him Bron Bron haha lets talk about what we just saw last night and all throughout these playoffs from the man and his teammates. Not nicknames, how bout what you all “witnesssed.” Let’s not talk around the facts buddy

DCar
DCar
June 22, 2012 2:04 pm

JH, you open yourself up to, all of the deserved criticism you get. You need to be caned, just for calling him Bron-Bron. IF THAT SOUNDS MANLY TO YOU, YOU ARE A NANCY! Also, for rooting for another team to win, after swearing to be a Sixer fan all year & ripping us for criticising them, you need to have pungey sticks driven under your feet! SO F^#@ OFF, meat jockey, I have a beautiful family & beautiful weekend to enjoy. Enjoy your victory, on your front running bandwagon, & take it to South beach, for the parade & stay there!

greenfan
greenfan
June 22, 2012 2:08 pm

I would rather read something about Stan Van Gundy or Michael Phelps than some poster going on about his love for an out of town player……go to BronBron dot com and profess your love….give GCobb posters a break

pheags88
pheags88
June 22, 2012 2:09 pm

I “witnessed” a current NBA superstar blatantly tell the world he was simply not good enough to win a Ring without other superstars around him.

Jakedog agreed…this isn’t the Miami Heat sports blog so i don’t get why this dude is even here. Pretty simple man, Lebron is a great player in todays NBA. But in terms of NBA history…still has a long way to go to be in Jordan, Magic, WIlt, Kobe category…until he wins about 3 more of those rings then maybe there will be something to talk about.

RealTalk777
RealTalk777
June 22, 2012 2:17 pm

Pheags88 LMAO, very true! Lebron will never be in Jordan’s category, lets get that out the way right now! Every NBA finals game Jordan went to he won! That alone tells you something about how Jordan seized the moment, and never was talk about Jordan finishing the game! Lebron gets all the calls like Jordan did no doubt…but anyone else think that flagrant foul on D Fish was ridicolous? anyone else see what looked like a referee giving Spoelstra a high five running down the court (maybe telling him to get off the court, that would be the logical assumption)

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 2:33 pm

Womp womp womp, the last 4 guys to post on here were ripping Bron Bron all year long calling him every name in the book along with his fans. NOW, the day after his finals victory your calling for mercy hahaha you guys are pathetic. He proved all you guys wrong just admit it! You guys have that much pride? C’mon now. You sound immature bringing up a decision 2 guys made to play along with Dwade in south beach. They were free agents they could do whatever the heck they want to. How do you feel about guys that force trades to certain teams, players like Carmello Anthony among others? Just admit you hate Lebron, because you obviously cant deny his ability on the court. Hes a top 10 player all time already. And when you guys compare a player to Jordan that guy must be doing something right. Kiss the ring peasants

BirdoBeamen
BirdoBeamen
June 22, 2012 2:33 pm

My favorite part was when Lebron said “I did it the hard way, didn’t take any shortcuts to get to this place” etc. etc. — like really?? Are you serious??

BirdoBeamen
BirdoBeamen
June 22, 2012 2:34 pm

@Realtalk — I SAW that. I’m assuming he was telling him “Congratulations coach” — after all, refs had a hand in helping him achieve a championship.

greenfan
greenfan
June 22, 2012 2:38 pm

Hey Jon Hart you ego-manical paranoid freak…..this is the first time I have ever posted a thing about the guy…..I wouldn’t say I am a “hater” of “BronBron”….but I will admit to hating your posts about the guy

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 2:42 pm

Birdo a day after the man wins a championship and shut you and the rest of the world up you come with a soft comment like that? Unbelievable. Hes been in the finals without Wade and Bosh so what are you talking? He knew he needed a true team around him something that certainly wasnt and still isnt in cleveland in order to get over the hump. If you was a true student and fan of the game you would have more respect for what you “witnessed” and would understand it but obviously you dont

Jon Hart
Jon Hart
June 22, 2012 2:43 pm

I stand corrected than greenfan. My apologies

Gotta Luv It
Gotta Luv It
June 22, 2012 2:56 pm

I’ll ride with you JH…just cause there’s still hate flowing…
Someone mentioned that Lebron needs more than one to be great…Elgin Baylor, Julius Erving, Oscar Robertson, Charles Barkley…How many NBA rings do these all-time greats have ?

someone else mentioned something about being a FA and signing with another team and winning a chip…didn’t future hall of famers Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett do the same thing ?

So no one here thinks Jordan didn’t get help winning those rings ?
The Jordan rules weren’t just about the Detroit pistons

Oh and the dude has a shit load of NBA records
You aint got to like him but you gotta respect him

Gotta Luv It
Gotta Luv It
June 22, 2012 2:56 pm

****respect His Game****

BirdoBeamen
BirdoBeamen
June 22, 2012 3:06 pm

I will always respect Lebron the ballplayer. One of the greats to ever play the game and it’s an honor to be able to “witness” his talent.

I despise Lebron the narcissistic ego-maniac that believes the NBA revolves around him and is delusional with how he achieved his championship. Didn’t take any “shortcuts?” — Sorry buddy, I believe teaming up with two of the top 10 players in the NBA can be considered a “shortcut”.

You left an entire city behind. A city that should be celebrating this championship with you. A championship that you should have gotten WITH them.

I couldn’t imagine how I would feel if I player I loved and grew up with (Dawkins/Iverson) would have done such a classless thing to my team and city.

RealTalk777
RealTalk777
June 22, 2012 3:07 pm

Gotta – firstly no one said Jordan didn’t have help…but lets be real, Jordan had one side kick and that was Pippen, and Pippen wasn’t an explosive offensive player, he played defense and ran the offense…
wait…so are you saying that Lebron is on MJ’s level?

jakedog
jakedog
June 22, 2012 3:15 pm

look, we wouldn’t even be talking about lebron james, at least not this much, if this “whack” job jhart wouldn’t constantly bring him up, in the manner he does, “bron bron”, wtf, bernard hopkins would punch this dude right in the face , and birdo is correct, James brings this so called “hate” to himself, all those other players gotta lists didn’t annoint themselves the greatest , go on tv and announce how many championships they would win, I will always actively root against this ego freak