Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NBA Finals Chronicles, Tuesday June 12

Here comes the prediction train. I addressed yesterday how good this series will be and here is what will happen. It is well known that the strength of the best players on the Heat, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, is  driving to the basket. Against the Boston Celtics, they could get to the hoop very easily because the Celtics lack a great shot blocker in the middle. Stiemsma and Garnett are no slouches, but Serge Ibaka is the best shot blocker in the NBA. The inside pressure of the Thunder bigs will force the Heat away from the paint, taking away one of the things that they do best. This, is why Chris Bosh is such a major key to this series. Being a jump-shooting forward, his shots will keep Ibaka on the perimeter, and he can't live up to the Iblocka nickname. Obviously Bosh is not going to hit three 3-pointers like in Game 7 against Boston, but the Heat need him not only to hit shots, but to be used as a decoy to keep Ibaka out of the painted area. Notice the fact that I have yet to mention Kendrick Perkins. This is because Perkins is such an offensive liability, that Scott Brooks will be better off using him very sporadically. With Perk on the floor, the Thunder will be playing 4-on-5 offensively, which against the Miami Heat is not something that any team wants to do. The Heat put too many points on the board to play shorthanded in the halfcourt offense. In place of Perkins, there may be a lot of Nick Collison during this series, and sometimes he may switch positions with Ibaka to keep Serge in the paint. Another line-up tweak that the Thunder can make, is to go small, with Durant playing the 4 and Ibaka playing the 5. This is yet another way to keep Ibaka in the paint, mainly because the centers of Miami are not offensive threats at all. Defensively, OKC may use a lot of Sefolosha on James when they go small, which should be very often. Do not expect to see 48 minutes of head-to-head Durant on James because that will not happen. On the other side however, because LeBron is an All-World defender, he will guard Durant for the majority of the series. Westbrook and Harden will both have pretty good defenders on them, but it looks like Westbrook can wear out Chalmers after a while, and take over later in the game. No matter what the situation is, smart play from Westbrook will give the Thunder a much better chance at winning. If he does not try to take over all by himself, which is something that he tried to do against San Antonio, and passes in the right spots, then he will be a big factor in the favor of the Thunder.
A part of this series that should not be understated, is the home-court advantage of the former Seattle Supersonics. The crowd at the Chesapeake Energy Arena is very electric. They give a true advantage to their team, unlike the often quiet Miami Heat fans. The fact that role players tend to play better at home seems to swing this series in the favor of the Thunder. Obviously at some point this series, there will be a LeBron takeover game in which he cannot be stopped. The Heat will win that game, but other than that, the Thunder are a better team collectively. The 2-3-2 format is an advantage to the Thunder because it is very rare for the home team to sweep the middle 3 games. It is because of this that I say, drum roll please:

Oklahoma City Thunder Win In 6 Games

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