The stage is set for an enthralling NBA Finals between the Heat and Thunder. Here's a series preview to help you with your NBA picks.
We're not ones to brag over here at SBRForum, but we did
successfully pick who would be sitting here as the representatives of both the
Western Conference and Eastern Conference back before the season started. Not that it's a huge surprise to see either
team make it to this point.
Now that we've gotten down to the final two, which way do we
go with our NBA picks?
This is going to be one of the most entertaining NBA Finals
ever and the basketball odds tell us it's going to be close as well.
The Thunder are narrowly favored at -165 to win the title,
while LeBron and the Heat are priced at +145.
Oklahoma City Thunder
This is what we wrote about OKC back in December:
“This is it for Durant and company. All of the pieces are
there and now it's all about execution”
Well, they definitely executed. After sweeping the defending
champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round and beating Kobe Bryant and the
L.A. Lakers in five games the next, the Thunder were given the task of
overcoming the seemingly unbeatable San Antonio Spurs in the conference finals.
Things were looking really bleak at the start of the series,
but OKC made some adjustments and reeled off four straight wins to book their
place in the Finals.
Kevin Durant, scarily enough, continues to get better and
better, especially in crunch time, Russell Westbrook seems to have realized
that he doesn't have to take 30 shots for his team to win, James Harden has
nailed some of the most important shots thus far in the playoffs, and the
supporting cast has stepped up too.
No team is picked and pulled apart as much as the Heat are,
yet they've battled through the criticism all the way to the Finals.
It was hardly an easy road though for Miami. They took care
of the New York Knicks with relative ease (five games) but then needed six to
finish off the Indiana Pacers in the conference semi-finals.
In the Eastern Conference finals the Heat were given everything
they possibly get from the aging Boston Celtics. Ultimately LeBron and company won in
seven, winning the deciding game 101-88 on their home floor.
The frustrating thing for the Heat? It doesn't matter that
they're in the Finals for a second straight season. If they don't win a
championship, this year's going to go down as a disappointing one. Who knows
what that could mean for Pat Riley when he addresses his roster come offseason
Miami's defense could be an advantage in this series, but we
saw how inconsistent they can be in that regard against Boston. Oklahoma City
is extremely efficient offensively and that should present challenges.
Game 1 Odds
The Thunder get the advantage of home-court in the finals
and will be liking their chances of getting off to a fast start in the series.
They haven't lost a game in OKC throughout the entire postseason.
For Game 1 the Thunder are favored by 4.5 points, a good
situation for them considering they've cashed in five straight games as chalk
on the NBA odds boards.
The Heat enter this showdown having gone a miserable 0-6-1
ATS in their previous seven matchups as underdogs.
A total of 192.5 has been locked down by sportsbooks. The
UNDER is 4-1 in the last five head-to-head meetings between the two teams.
Even though both sides have Big Threes, this matchup is all
about the heavyweight battle between the two best small forwards in the game
today. LeBron and Durant are going to break all kinds of records when
everything's said and done and it's going to be a pleasure watching them try to
top each other in these Finals.
As much as people love to hate the Heat, they've earned
their place here. But do they have enough in the tank to finally bring that
Considering the Thunder haven't lost in their own building
during the playoffs, we know this series isn't going to be over quickly. Also,
Westbrook should be very productive given the point guard spot has been a cause
for concern for the Heat all season long.
A healthier Bosh will certainly help Miami, but in the end
we think OKC will shatter the Heat's title aspirations. However, regardless of
whatever ends up happening, this series is going to be one for the ages.
Oklahoma City Thunder in 7