It’s finally here! We’ve suffered through some terrible series, but we rewarded with the matchup everyone wanted. Sorry Spurs, Lakers, Celtics and Bulls fans. No one cares about your teams beside you.
This series will put up huge ratings. Both teams deserve to be here. Both teams have a lot to prove. Both teams have serious questions. But most importantly, the hands down two best players in the NBA are going head to head for (hopefully) seven games. The three time scoring champ vs. the three time MVP. This will be an epic and historic matchup.
You, beloved Sports Dump reader, are a serious sports fan. You’ve read plenty of previews, so I’m not going to bore you with a long post about where these teams have come from or who you should cheer for. I’m just going to give you some things to think about while you’re watching tonight and the rest of the series.
- Miami has the best defense the Thunder will have played all playoffs long and they match up with them athletically better than anyone else either. OKC led the NBA in turnovers per game during the season. Miami is an incredible transition team. Protecting the ball should be a top priority for the Thunder.
- The key to the Thunder’s defensive scheme will depend on which player can effectively defend Lebron James. They likely won’t use Durant, since Jame draws so many fouls driving to the basket. That means they’ll either have to use Sefolosha (who he will immediately post up) or Ibaka (who he’ll blow by). James Harden may be the best option, but that will severely limit his offensive impact and the entire reason he comes off the bench for OKC. Don’t be surprised if Scott Brooks employs a cowardly zone to try and keep the MVP out of the lane.
- I don’t expect Kendrick Perkins to be playing a lot of minutes by the end of this series. The Thunder will have to go with a smaller lineup against Miami or risk Durant getting in foul trouble guarding James. Miami doesn’t have a true low post scorer for Perkins to defend and his offensive contributions are negligible.
- Russell Westbrook is the key to the Thunder’s offense. Miami will try to force him into becoming a facilitator and that’s not his game. Erik Spoelstra will likely trap and over play Westbrook on the pick and roll. He must protect the ball and make smart passes. Miami would love to make this a transition game and Westbrook can’t fall for that trap.
- Chris Bosh doesn’t have to be great, but he must make an impact. If he can knock down long jumpers like in game 7 against Boston he’ll draw Ibaka away from the basket, opening up the lane for James and Wade. If OKC puts Durant on him, he has to post him up on the blocks and wear down the explosive scorer.
- Speaking of Durant. He can’t sit back and watch Russell Westbrook and James Harden try to take over late in games. For the Thunder to win a title, he must be their best player. If Miami is trapping and double-teaming Westbrook, Durant has to knock down shots and put pressure of the defense. Something he is more than capable of doing that.
- Either Scott Brooks or Erik Spoelstra are going to win a title. First one to make a meaningful adjustment wins?
- Both teams love to run and are good in transition. That means one thing: DUNKS ON DUNKS ON DUNKS! I can’t wait.
- If you rank the players in this series, Miami has #1 but Oklahoma City might have the next 3. You hear that Dwayne Wade?
Prediction: I think Miami’s defense and ability to create turnovers are the biggest advantage either team has. Oklahoma City has a great offensive team, but the Athleticism of Miami will slow them down. Heat in 7.Oh, and Lebron is going to win the Finals MVP by averaging 32 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists per game.