Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 6/10/12
If the Oklahoma City Thunder are to have a chance in the NBA Finals, theyll need to slow down LeBron James. Good luck. If the Miami Heat hope to have a shot, theyll have to try to contain Kevin Durant. Best wishes to them, too. If the Heats Dwyane Wade or Thunders Russell Westbrook go nuts well, were not really telling you anything you dont know. What makes these Finals so interesting is that James will likely match up with Durant, and perhaps Wade with Westbrook. But those are only the biggest names and brightest stars. You also have to consider the Heats Chris Bosh and to a lesser extent, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem. You also have to a keep close eye on the Thunders James Harden and Serbe Ibaka. Of course, the ringer may be Thunder center Kendrick Perkins, a longtime James nemesis who makes his millions by protecting the rim, and if need be, toss aside anyone who dares come near it. Or maybe its Heat forward Shane Battier, an underrated wing defender and occasional maker of 3-point shots. Bottom line: This is a best-of-seven series that has it all. The young, deep Thunder against the star-driven Heat. Or as some outside of Miami-Dade County might tell you, the good (Thunder) vs. the evil (the other guys). OKC is the fun-loving team that gets up and down the court in the blink of an eye. Miami can crush you if you turn the ball over and let James and Wade fill the fast-break lanes. Neither is too shabby in the half-court, either with Durant, Westbrook, James and Wade all capable off firing up some doozies as the shot clock expires. Then there are the coaches. The job of Miamis Erik Spoelstra is more difficult than it looks. He has to manage three huge personalities while making sure the supporting cast isnt ignored, and actually contributes. Meanwhile, OKCs Scott Brooks must find enough shots for both Durant and Westbrook, then try not to skip a beat when implementing a second unit that features Harden. Interestingly, both the Heat and Thunder are coming off victories over older teams that appeared to be on the verge of one last-gasp run. The Heat won two straight to shovel a little dirt on the Celtics basketball grave. The Thunder overcame a 2-0 hole and a Spurs team that had won 20 straight to show the world theyre not too ripe to adjust. James and Wade havent had to chase around anyone like Durant and Westbrook this postseason. Durant and Westbrook have never played on this grand of a stage. So who has the advantage? We arent likely to know for another six or seven games. The Thunder own home-court advantage; the Heat know how to win biggies on the road. The Thunder own a physical center, who used to keep James at bay during Perkins days with the Celtics and James with the Cavaliers. But the Heat, its pretty evident, have yet to shy from a challenge. So its impossible to find two teams more accomplished, more battle-proven, more ready for this platform. The Thunder are younger, but the Heat are hardly old. The Thunder strive to work the ball for the best possible shot, but the Heat thrive on stepping into passing lanes. The Thunder figure you out and break you down, but the Heat possess head-scratching ability to thwart your every move. On and on it goes, who wins the 2011-12 title nobody knows. On paper, its too hard to predict. On the court, it should be too good to miss. The Heat vs. the Thunder. Who has the edge? Who knows, who cares and lets get it started.
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