Oklahoma City, OK – The 2012 NBA Finals are here, and it is exactly what commissioner David Stern wanted to see. Arguably the two best players in the game will now face off, as LeBron and the Heat will face Durant and the Thunder. This Finals has the feel of one that could end up being epic, one that people may end talking about for many years to come. As veteran stars like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki continue to age, the young studs are taking over the league. Not only will this upcoming series feature LeBron and Durant, it also has plenty of other starpower, like Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook. Whichever team outlasts the other and wins this series may begin quite a run of several championships in the next few years. However, I could see a situation much like the Lakers and Celtics from the 80′s. One where these two teams meet several times in the Finals over the next several seasons. Instead of Magic vs Larry, it will be Kevin vs LeBron.
When this series begins Tuesday night, it will have plenty of hype surrounding it. Can the Heat fulfill their lofty goals when they came together two summers ago, and begin to win titles like they said they would? It is championship or bust for Miami, who put the pressure on themselves to win it all every year. Lebron James is the most gifted player on the planet in my opinion, but seems to lack the consistent drive to take over games as much as he should. He also lacks the “clutch gene”, as his inability to come up big down the stretch has been his Achilles heel. He can, however, do just about everything on the court and his overall skill set is like nothing this league has probably ever seen. There have been rumblings about Dwyane Wade not being totally healthy, as his knee may still be an issue. Chris Bosh being back is enormous for Miami, because without him the Heat probably would have had no chance against the Thunder. On the flipside, Oklahoma City just wiped out the Spurs, winning 4 straight and looking mighty explosive. Durant, Westbrook, Harden, and others look mature beyond their years. They have that look that they don’t want to wait for “their time”. They want it now. The Thunder’s “Big 3″ are all under 25 years of age, and some have wondered if this Finals stage may expose them a bit and show the young guns are not quite ready for prime time. Either way, this series will be extremely fun to watch for any NBA fan, and will showcase plenty of great athletes in their prime.
So who wins it? The pressure is still on Miami to get it done, and win a championship now. Until LeBron wins his first ring, it will never be good enough in just about everyone’s eyes. This is pressure he squarely put on himself, with the announcement he was heading to South Beach two years ago. Alongside Wade and Bosh, this trio has the capability to come up big and bring the trophy to Miami. It’s the supporting cast that worries me, though. After the “Big 3″, to say the rest of the team has been inconsistent is a major understatement. The bench is not very good or very deep, which will put more pressure on James, Wade, and Bosh to do more against a Thunder team that just hits you with waves of explosive play. Oklahoma City can be down by 12 and up by 10 within a matter of minutes. Their big guys, Ibaka and Perkins, are tough inside and Miami has no answer for that inside game. The overall athleticism the Thunder bring to the table is something Miami has not seen in the Eastern Conference playoffs. I think a couple of the games in this series will not be close, as Oklahoma City has the depth and energy to blow out the Heat. The individual matchup of Durant vs LeBron will be riveting, as both will have their dominating moments. Again, it will come down to the supporting casts, and this will provide the Thunder with a huge edge…..make mine Oklahoma City over Miami in 5 games…..This Thunder team is about to get started on a championship roll that should last many, many years.
Denver Sports by J Simp