By Josh Kramer
Mark it down. The third time will be the charm for the King. Call this the championship of threes. It is LeBron’s third appearance in the NBA Finals. James is coming off of his third MVP award. While Kevin Durant is coming off his third consecutive scoring title. Each team is led by an outstanding “Big Three.” Plus the pressure seems to be three times what it was in the conference finals on the King. As much as I and the rest of the world hate to admit it, it is time for LeBron to acquire a ring. Oklahoma City is a great team. They have proved that since December. The Thunder are young, exciting, and have outstanding overall team chemistry. But Miami won’t be denied this time. Besides, if OKC somehow pulls off the impossible, there may be a nuclear like explosion in South Beach.
On paper, this matchup is about as even as it gets. That is why I have been calling it a dream matchup for months now. Both teams finished second in their respective conference. The Heat won 46 games and had an average scoring margin of six points per game. OKC won 47 games and won by an average of 6.1 points per game. Both teams are led by an outstanding “Big Three.” And they split in their regular season battles. It is safe to say that on paper, not too much is revealed.
One key in OKC’s favor is the fact that they have home-court advantage. The Heat were nearly unbeatable at home this year, but showed their fair share of flaws when traveling. Next, the last time an MVP faced off with an NBA scoring champion in the finals was 1997. The scoring champ (Jordan) led his team to a victory over the MVP (Malone). But Miami also played in the NBA finals last year, while OKC did not. In addition, the Heat did better than the Thunder overall this year when their “Big Three” were healthy. OKC’s “Big Three” is not quite at the level of Miami’s outstanding trifecta, though they are very close. The agony of last year’s defeat will be a major driving force for the Heat. Expectations in Miami are so high, that if the Heat lose, it will be as if they had a worse year than the Charlotte Bobcats did. If the Thunder are to lose, there will be disappointment, but also a ton of pride in a very successful season. Losing is not an option for Miami.
Finally, Durant is playing great, but nobody is even on the same stratosphere as LeBron James right now. The guy is playing like a hybrid of Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, and Magic Johnson. As his teammates said after Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals, LeBron has that look in his eyes. He won’t be denied. He can’t be denied. It is time for the King to finally take his seat on the throne. Continue reading