A few thoughts on the NBA Finals which tip off Tuesday at 8 p.m. right here on KSAT 12! (See what I did there)
Outside of San Antonio, Boston and even poor Seattle, this is the matchup everyone wanted. David Stern must be doing back flips and aside from a little bit of Pacquiao-like officiating in the conference finals, both the Heat and Thunder earned their spot on this stage.
Off the top of my head, I can't remember another recent NBA Finals that featured the MVP and runner up, at least six all-pros, two Defensive Player of the Year candidates, the most opposite cities you could imagine and some good ol' fashion hate for the Heat and major band-wagon action for the Thunder. It's literally a good versus evil matchup and the villain is once again the King without a ring, LeBron James.
These playoffs have been Kevin Durant and OKC's coming out party, but LeBron is the central figure of these Finals. Is anyone more criticized? Is there anyone with more pressure? Is there anyone with more redemption on the line? Is the NBA a better place when James doesn't win? Yes to all of the above.
Once again, LeBron has put up impressive, MVP worthy numbers through the playoffs. He picked up his scoring and rebounding while playing nearly every minute and every position on the floor.
James carried Miami through the Bosh and Wade injuries, dismantled Boston in Game 6 with an all-time great performance and led the Heat past the Celts in an exciting Game 7.
But absolutely none of this matters unless he wins a game late in the fourth quarter and ultimately takes the title back to South Beach. Can LeBron close? We'll get our answer.
Kevin Durant has no such problem. Last year, I called KD the Terminator "T-2" model because he was nearly unstoppable. He's even more unstoppable now as Spurs fans painfully saw in Games 4 and 6 of the West finals.
LeBron may be considered the best overall player in the game, but there's no one else I want other than Durant taking the last shot. Heck, there may be no one else I would want to start a franchise. This is the effect KD has had during these playoffs.
As appealing as the KD-LBJ matchup is, there's many other factors at play. Westbrook must dominate simply because he has the weakest matchup against Chalmers. Harden and Wade cancel each other out, but D-Wade has to play well all game opposed to just the fourth quarter for Miami to win.
The other question is whether Chris Bosh is healthy enough to bang with the Thunder big men. The Bostrich (Yes, he resembles an ostrich) returned against Boston and played mostly on the perimeter. Miami needs him to rebound and draw Ibaka away from the basket.
Let's not forget the chances of Perk and Haslem giving each other a record amount of scowls and complaining after every call. And what about the bench? I mentioned Harden, but Fisher is as clutch as they come and nothing would be better than him winning a title after being thrown to curb by LA. God forbid Shane Battier hits a big 3-pointer! I may lose my mind.
This entire locked-out season has been a roller coaster ride so expect the same this series. But there lies the problem, you just don't know what will happen.
My instinct says Heat in 6 just because I feel Lebron may officially meltdown if he loses another Finals, but it's impossible to predict.
I do know it should be fun to watch, it should be tense, it should be nail-biting, it should be everything you would want in an NBA Finals.