The basketball world reaches a fever pitch this week as The NBA Finals begin, featuring the young, ultra-talented Oklahoma City Thunder and the fearsome, much-maligned Miami Heat. We are in for a classic, gentlemen, as the NBA’s cream of the crop duke it out for basketball supremacy.
What have we learned leading up to this moment? Many things. Lebron, in spite of his misgivings, is worthy of his MVP trophy. Durant is truly clutch. Younger legs do prevail as we saw the older casts of San Antonio and Boston sputter in the end. Come-from-behind wins are in fashion. And three-point daggers. Man, they are everywhere.
Also, predicting outcomes is hard business. But here’s our all-knowing take anyway: the still-hot Miami surprises OKC in game 1, but OKC recovers and blows out Miami in game 2. OKC wins game 3 in another sterling victory. With their backs against the wall, Miami storms back to win the two remaining home games. OKC, desperate to hold off Miami’s surge, keeps their opponents at bay for three quarters, until Miami breaks loose in the final period, thereby becoming your 2011-2012 NBA Champions.
There, we said it. Of course, that’s just our version of the script; we’re sure you have yours. What will be constant are these underlying storylines. Storylines far juicier than the latest Pep.ph gossips!
Durant Vs. Lebron
Arguably, the two most talented individuals in the NBA right now. The three-time scoring champ against the three-time MVP. Both are at the peak of their powers, and both have massive deals with Nike. Similarities aside, the final outcome of the series holds huge yet wildly varied sways over the resulting public perception for these players.
Lebron is in his second Finals appearance in as many years. Lose, and all the haters (led by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, probably) will hold their own parade jeering and cheering in delight. A series victory will quiet the critics…for a while, at least. Then they’ll bring up how James promised “not one, not two, not three, not four…” Miami championships. Baby steps, Lebron, baby steps.
Durant has far less pressure on his shoulders. People will be far more forgiving should he lose; this is only the 23-year old phenom’s first Finals appearance, anyway. Durant should be the one putting the most pressure on himself. His team is right on the cusp. Knowing Durant and with the way he’s grown in recent months, the dude will come out firing, and will relish the opportunity to play against James, partly to prove why he shouldn’t have been the MVP runner-up.
In any case, this is as scintillating as individual NBA match-ups go. This is some Magic-Bird material unfolding here.
NEXT PAGE: Big three on both sides