Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Who? Why? How many? (Prediction)
Steve Aschburner: Since before the playoffs started – and with greater intensity once Chris Bosh went to his knees with his abdominal strain in Game 1 against Indiana – I’ve been convinced that the West winners would also become the NBA champions. Thunder or Spurs, didn’t matter, they struck me as deeper, more complete teams with far fewer flaws. But Bosh’s return, lack of rust and increasing impact, along with the play of The Other Guys, Dwyane Wade’s potential to shred a foe with circus shots or a flood of free throws on any given night and LeBron James’ newfound Grim Reaper mode has me reconsidering. To be consistent, I’m still picking OKC and its offense over Miami and its defense, but I believe now it will be closer. Much closer. Thunder in 7.
Fran Blinebury: OKC, because the Thunder are a team that has steadily improved, learned lessons and moved forward as a group. They have run the very bejeweled and credentialed gantlet of the Mavs, Lakers and Spurs to get here, so they’re definitely tested. The Heat continue to seem like they’re still trying to figure it all out and that look of bewilderment that settles on their faces at times late in games says they still haven’t. On any day, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are interchangeably 1 and 1A for “best player in the game.” The difference is LeBron Game 5 and LeBron Game 6 vs. Boston — not the gaudy stat totals, but the attitude. Durant is more comfortable in his skin every night and so is everyone on the OKC roster. Even in Big Three vs. Big Three, I’m taking the kids. This is just the beginning. Thunder in 6.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Thunder in 7. Because this is a special team in a special time, playing wise beyond its years and playing its best at the right time of the year, thanks to the veteran playoff opponents that got them ready.
Shaun Powell: Thunder in 6. Too much depth, too few holes. Six games. Five if LeBron and/or Wade take one night off.
John Schuhmann: The only thing that would be surprise me is the series ending in four or five games. It’s hard to pick against the Thunder, because they’re 8-0 at home in the postseason and the Heat – given how tough it is to win all three of those home games in the middle – would probably have to win two games in OKC to win the series. But I just think that the Heat are the better team here. Furthermore, I believe that LeBron James doesn’t want to go into another summer knowing that he didn’t leave it all out on the floor. Heat in 6.
Sekou Smith: I’ve already gone on record as picking the Thunder in 7. The only question left to answer is why? Kevin Durant’s cleared ever hurdle placed in front of him so far, and this is his greatest. After watching him go to work in this postseason without anyone being able to find a way to stop him, I just can’t see the Heat doing it either. I think this series has epic written all over it. And I expect spectacular effort from all around. As desperate as this Heat team seems to be, I think the this Thunder team is hungrier and in the end will be better thanks to Durant and a home court advantage that is the envy of the league.