Let’s hold off on this coronation for King James.
Because the Oklahoma City Thunder will win the NBA Finals.
Sorry, LeBron. The honest truth is the Thunder are a better team, at least right now.
In his pep rally after joining the Heat, LeBron famously said not one, not two and went on as he discussed the number of titles he could win with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He could end this series with not one, not two, three runner-up finishes. James’ coronation might never come.
Nothing against LeBron. He’s one of the best to ever play and he’s having an unreal run in the playoffs. But this challenge is much different than the others.
First, let’s talk about how the two teams got here.
Miami played teams with glaring weaknesses along the way. New York was beat up and can’t defend. Indiana, while tough, deep and balanced, lacked the star with the creativity and scoring punch to make their defense pay for double teaming Roy Hibbert. Boston was old, had a hobbled Ray Allen and was missing Avery Bradley.
I give Miami credit for winning the series against Indiana without Bosh, but the Heat played more games than they should have needed to get here.
Oklahoma City, meanwhile, went through quite the gauntlet.
The Thunder swept Dallas, the proud defending champs.
Oklahoma City rolled through Los Angeles 4-1. It would have been fair to expect at least two wins from the Lakers and wouldn’t have been a shock if they had won, especially with Kobe Bryant.
Then the Thunder lowered the boom on San Antonio, a well-coached, balanced team with loads of Finals experience. Oklahoma City fell behind Tim Duncan 2-0 and somehow won. Winning Game 5 in San Antonio says a lot. Oklahoma City won four straight against a team that had won 20 straight before its first playoff loss.
The other factor to consider is Bosh’s injury. Oklahoma City’s intimidating front line of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins won’t be intimidated by a less-than-100 percent Bosh. Ibaka was runner-up for defensive player of the year. Perkins has a well-deserved reputation as an enforcer. It doesn’t look good for Bosh.
There’s the Derek Fisher factor. Some guys just have it. Robert Horry was that guy. Rings just follow certain guys around. With Fish on your team, there’s leadership, a guy who has been there many, many times and a guy who is a living and breathing good luck charm.
Add the fact that Oklahoma City has homecourt advantage, and it becomes the Thunder’s series to lose. Oklahoma City is unbeaten at home in the playoffs. Did I mention that’s against the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs?
James has been tremendous in the NBA playoffs, but he’ll meet his match in Durant. And, for the first time in the playoffs, Miami will face a more talented team. Russell Westbrook is nearly Wade’s equal and could emerge as a household name in this series. James Harden alone is better than Miami’s bench. And if Bosh reinjures himself, forget about it.
So, here’s the prediction. Drumroll please¦Oklahoma City in 6. I think the Thunder steal one of the middle three in Miami and close it out at home. Kevin Durant emerges as the star of the future and Oklahoma City, not Miami, threatens a dynasty.
What do you think? Feel free to argue or leave comments.