Just looked at my postings and lots has happened since my last post. Mainly, the Thunder have come through hell and high water (Mavs, Lakers, Spurs) to get to the NBA Finals. The Heat struggled but made it through their own challenges (Knicks, Pacers, Celtics), most of them self-inflicted. This Finals is pretty much what many wanted from the beginning of this lockout shortened season, so let's take a look at the matchups and then I'll give you my pick.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Of course this comes down to Big 3's, so let's take a look at them first. Westbrook, other than a few bad shots here and there and the Gordon Gartrell shirts, is the linchpin for this Thunder team. Westbrook has shown more willingness to get KD the ball but also stay aggressive. Westbrook is the matchup nightmare for the Heat because there is no way that Chalmers can cover him and isn't called upon enough to score to balance this matchup out. KD is the scorer and we all know that. He has shown in these playoffs that he wants to be that man and has effectively mature right in front of our eyes, but I think in this series, IF he guards LeBron, he's gonna have to play some defense. The lefty killer, Harden, is going to play a big role, because Miami doesn't really have many people that can guard him if he's on the floor at the same time that Westbrook and KD are. If Wade has to slide over and guard Westbrook, then Chalmers/Battier would have to contain Harden. I can already see him getting to the lane.
Outside of the Thunder Big 3, the Thunder are deeper and better. Perkins brings defense, Ibaka brings defense, blocked shots and an iffy 16ft/17ft jumper, but past them you still have Collison, Cook, Sefolosha (starter), Derek Fisher and even Nazr Mohammed.
Who has to step up: Harden, Sefolosha, Fisher. Harden has got to get buckets against a Heat bench that has problems getting people on the floor. Sefolosha is going to be guarding Wade and LBJ during different times of the game. He's going to have to make them work for everything they get and make things hard. He might be giving up too much weight against LBJ, but that's why they pay him big dollars. Did I mention that he's going to have to hit some shots too? Fisher had an opportunity to go to the Thunder or the Heat and chose the Thunder. People say Fish is too old and he's not this and that, but I think Fish's experience might help this young Thunder team in this moment.
Miami Heat:- This is it. We're back to where we were last year, in the Finals and an opportunity to not repeat that performance from last year. LBJ may have exercised some demons with his performance in the playoffs thus far, but the big question starts tonight. Can he get it done? The heat Big 3 will have a lot of say so as it relates to that question. Wade has got to prove to us that even if he is hurt, that he can suck it up and play for at least the next 7 games. I know it's easy saying that from the chair I'm sitting in, but he can not have games in the first halves like he did against the Celtics or this series is over quickly. He may need to fly Tom Crean in and have a talk with him again since it seemed to work during the Indy series. Bosh is still recovering from his injury but he was the reason the Heat won Game 7 against the Celtics. He'll be counted on in this series to keep Ibaka at bay. Finally, LBJ. I always point back to the night that Charles Barkley was on national TV and sent a message to LBJ, saying 'take over'. What he did in Game 6 is still memorizing, but he's going to have to step it up in this series too.
On the bench, someone has got to make some plays. I do like seeing Norris Cole playing a little more and I think that Ronny Turiaf can help on the boards with the active Ibaka. Jones and Miller have got to hit some shots or the Heat are done.
Who has to step up: Coach Spo, Everyone besides Big 3. Spo is always referred to as someone that puts time in and reviews tape and all of that,...he's going to have to do a lot of that on the fly. He's going to have to put a plan together that will get his team in position to win. If I see ANY plays where LBJ is standing in the corner while anyone dribble drives and hands off I will do my best to get to Miami and kick Spo in the shin. Someone besides the Big 3 has got to step up. I mean I'm not asking for 20 points or anything like that, but if Battier gets 10, Chalmers gets 10, Haslem gets 8, Anthony gets 6, that's what I'm talking about (FYI, those are per game numbers, not series total numbers). Mike Miller I know you're hurting, but get two shots or something and give it all you can.
Prediction: This has been the hardest one of the year. I mean I am from the old school where a team with their first arrival to the Finals means you lose and it helps prepare you for next year, but I've watched this Thunder team ball throughout the playoffs. They are not only ready, but they are hungry and there's a quiet confidence around them. This Heat team thought everyone was going to lay down to them last year and this year, but they have also learned how to fight for what they want. They are not at full strength (healthwise) but this team seems ready to handle this challenge. The Thunder are favored by most, my head says Thunder, but my heart says Heat.
Winner - Miami Heat. Hulk Smash (focused) Lebron >>>>> anything.
Side note: Can ya'll please get off of LBJ's jock? He is a baller who will more than likely make HOF even if he doesn't win a ring. And before you go that far,...look at all the dudes that have never won the Finals. Admire his greatness and let him get past 'the Decision' and any other tomfoolery.
Who you got?!?!?!?