With Celtics behind them, Heat now collides with Thunder in NBA Finals
Miami decisively defeated Boston in Game 7. They now advance to the NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Game 1 is tonight starting at 9 p.m. Eastern time on ABC.
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One of the main, and more sensational lines of discussion in the interim between last Saturday night and this evening’s Game 1 has been the relative importance of Oklahoma City’s “home grown” big three of Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden versus Miami’s “cherry-picked” trio of stars: James, Wade and Bosh. But regardless of whether the core of a team is either organic or synthetic, the fact remains these are both highly disciplined and skilled squads that have been battle-tested at the highest level.Skip to next paragraph
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Probably a better question, aside from whose “Big Three” will show up, is whose supporting cast will make a substantive contribution? With Bosh still seeing limited minutes, will the Heat’s powerful outside shooter Shane Battier or rebounding phenom Udonis Haslem fill the void? Or will Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins pick this series to make a meaningful and resounding statement? Regardless, the fight in the post will be “Thunderous”, if not “Heated”.
As far as coaching is concerned, this is a relative wash. Scott Brooks of Oklahoma City and Erik Spoelstra of Miami, though serving as lightning rods for criticism by their most vocal fans, also are supreme motivators who have the respect and appreciation of their respective rosters. They’ve successfully navigated the mine-laden regular and playoff seasons with an aplomb that has made Tuesday’s matchup all but a foregone conclusion for many in the NBA community.
Though this is the second visit for Miami in the Finals – having been humiliated by the Dallas Mavericks last season – Oklahoma City has the distinction of being the first team since the 1997-98 Utah Jazz to break the San Antonio Spurs/LA Lakers/Dallas Mavericks’ monopoly on the Western Conference title.
In the 'Finals' analysis (to coin a phrase), the home court advantage in pressure situations tends to be of huge significance, and has a great deal to say about how a series goes. The team with home-court advantage has won 20 of the 27 Finals since the league switched to the 2-3-2 format in 1985.
ESPN commentator Chris Mullin, an NBA veteran himself who has visited both the Thunder and Heat venues, asserted that Oklahoma City’s 18,000+ capacity arena is unlike any other home court advantage in the NBA that he’s ever experienced. He likened it to a college rivalry atmosphere, complete with tailgating and with raucous fans showing up hours before each game to cheer on their team.
And with Oklahoma City’s ascent into the rarified air of the Finals, the spirits of an entire state have been dramatically lifted. And that’s a powerful recipe for victory. The Thunder wins in seven games.