Tuesday night the NBA Finals will kickoff with the matchup we all want to see. No not the Heat vs. Thunder but the one-on-one matchup between Lebron James and Kevin Durant. Who cares if the 2 best teams in the league are playing and we will get to see Westbrook, The Beard, Wade and Bosh go at it. We get to see the reigning MVP and the reigning scoring champ go at it. This has happened before in 1997 when Jordan’s Bulls beat Malone’s Jazz in the finals but this matchup will be different because the 2 best players in the league are going to be defending each other much of the series. So don’t give me Magic vs. Bird or Barkley vs. Jordan because I am looking for great players who went at each other on the court.
Magic Johnson vs. Isiah Thomas (’88,’89): 2 of the best PGs in the history of the game faced off twice in the NBA Finals with the Lakers winning in ’88 and the Pistons winning in ’89. Coming into both finals this matchup looked to be epic but Magic was injured in the ’88 finals and Thomas was injured in the ’89 finals to take away from the battle.
Michael Jordan vs. Clyde Drexler (’92): The sports media billed this as a battle of 2 high-flying guards and 2 of the games best scorers going at each other. Jordan came out in the first game of the series and torched the Blazers for 35 first half points on the power of 6 3-pointers. The Bulls won in 6 games but Jordan’s dominance was never challenged by Drexler.
Willis Reed vs. Wilt Chamberlain (’70, ’72): Like the Magic/Thomas matchup this one was marred by injury to the 2 big men. In winning the title in ’70, Reed and the Knicks were able to beat the Lakers who were depleted from Wilt’s severe knee injury and the Lakers were able to return the favor in ’72 against the banged up Knicks.
I could do another post just for great center matchups in the finals but I won’t I will just list some of the best right here.
Russell/Chamberlain, Olajuwon/Ewing, Olajuwon/O’Neal, Parish/Malone, Kareem/Malone, Kareem/Parish just to name a few. In fact the 80’s and 90’s were full of great center matchups.
Now we come to Lebron James and Kevin Durant. 2 players at the top of their game and both looking for that 1st NBA Title. One will go home and have to wait until next season while the other will get that monkey (Lebron has a gorilla on his back) 0ff their back. These 2 have the game to make this one of the most exciting series ever. Durant can score on anyone but Lebron may be the games’ best one-on-one defender. Durant has good defensive skills but he will be giving up a lot of size to Lebron. If the matchup is played on the perimeter then Durant has the advantage but if Lebron will go at the basket then Durant will not be able to match.
Will this be the greatest finals matchup ever? Yes.
Both guys will get their points but in the end I think that Lebron James will be able to shake some of the doubters left on him and win his first NBA Title.