MIAMI – LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the two best basketball players in the world. Come June 26, one of the two will become an NBA champion for the first time … at the expense of the other.
Three-time MVP vs. three-time scoring champ. Head to head. Defending each other for 40-plus minutes a night for (likely) six or seven games. Who could ask for anything more?
KD-LeBron is enough to get you excited for the 2012 NBA Finals. But championships are won by teams, not individuals.
The Miami Heat vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder is a Finals matchup that many of us foresaw back in December. But both teams overcame adversity in the conference finals — Oklahoma City was down 0-2, Miami was down 2-3 — to get here.
Now that Chris Bosh is healthy, both teams have three legit scoring threats. The series could very well be decided by which team gets its stars into the paint and to the free throw line more often. But the play of role players can have a big impact.
The Thunder have been the better offensive team all season, while the Heat have been the better defensive team. Dwyane Wade‘s health and Russell Westbrook‘s decision-making will be key storylines. And two young coaches (OKC’s Scott Brooks and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra) will be under the microscope.
Miami has been here before, but the Thunder have home-court advantage, hosting Games 1, 2, 6 and 7. 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. And only twice in the 27 years has the other team won three straight games on its home floor.
LeBron James. Kevin Durant. Heat vs. Thunder. It begins Tuesday.