The NBA Finals will once again come down to the Heat and Thunder.
I know a lot of Los Angeles fans will be stunned when their beloved Clippers and Lakers don’t advance out of the West, but Oklahoma City simply has too much firepower.
A recent poll taken by the Los Angeles Times found that 87 percent of Laker fans believe the Lakers will win a championship this year while over 50 percent believe the Lakers will rack up between 64-72 wins, putting them within striking distance of the Chicago Bulls’ 1995-1996 record setting 72-win season. Yet, 48 percent of these fans concede they are concerned with the veteran rosters' ability to stay healthy. This includes Kobe’s Bryant’s knees, Dwight Howard’s surgically repaired back, and Steve Nash’s back.
In the end, it is the 89 percent of Laker fans that admit the Thunder are the Lakers’ primary Western Conference opponent — that will be correct. Yet, even these fans will be surprised when the NBA Champion comes out of the East.
It is rare that a repeat champion is an underdog, but that’s almost how the Miami Heat feel. Yes, they acquired Ray Allen, who shot 44.3 percent beyond the arc, and Rashard Lewis who averaged 16.1 points per game over his career. But the monster acquisitions of Nash and Howard by L.A. paint them as the Western Conference frontrunners in many people’s minds.
The Finals will come down to matchups. Both teams have advantages. The point guard matchup of Russell Westbrook on Dwyane Wade will be a push. LeBron James on Kevin Durant is a slight edge to James due to his ability to dominate every aspect of the game, not to mention Durant’s inability to guard James straight-up.
The interesting matchups involve Chris Bosh and James Harden. Rashard Lewis might be just the kryptonite the Heat need to D-up Harden off the dribble. Serge Ibaka will struggle against Bosh both on the low post and high post where he is lethal with his mid-range jumper and high release.
Throw into the mix Allen's sharp-shooting from beyond the arc and it’s advantage Miami. The series will go six games, but will result in the King being crowned again — and the horrible MJ comparisons that will drag on all summer.
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