BY RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Writer
Miami vs Oklahoma City, Heat vs Thunder, Good vs Evil, LeBron vs Durant, Big 3 vs Big 3; call it what you want, but the 2012 NBA Finals will be one for the ages.
The final road to a championship starts Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, as the star studded rosters of the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder clash on the court.
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Miami comes into the Finals after thrilling finishes in their previous two series against the Indiana Pacers and the Boston Celtics. LeBron James lived up to his MVP title while leading the Heat to a second straight Finals appearance, outlasting a Celtics team while racking up a combined 76 points, 27 rebounds, and 7 assists in Game 6 and 7.
Chris Bosh’s return proved to be the difference for Game 7 as he chipped in 19 points and 8 rebounds in a winning effort. Bosh’s presence and scoring ability will be key for the Heat against the Thunder and their strong big men, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Both had huge games to help the Thunder turn things around against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
Oklahoma City is coming off of a huge series win against the seemingly invincible San Antonio Spurs. En route to their Finals’ appearance, the Thunder broke the Spurs’ 20 game winning streak, handing them to their first three game losing stretch all season.
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The talents of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden helped lead the Thunder to their first Western Conference championship. The trio averaged at least 17 points per game all postseason, including Durant’s impressive 29.5 points per game.
James has been scrutinized by almost everyone after failing to be clutch against the Dallas Mavericks in last year’s Finals. With his back against the wall in the previous two series this year, it is obvious that he is vital in situations when his team needs him the most. You can see that James approaches his third Finals appearance differently, especially after tasting defeat before. The best experience is defeat, because you can learn so much from it, as James did. He worked on his game last summer with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to become a better, all around basketball player. So far, the work has paid dividends with James’ monster results in the postseason.
Durant, the 23 year old superstar in the NBA, is coming off a fabulous season for the Thunder, including his third NBA scoring title. Last year’s loss in the Western Conference Finals to the Mavericks benefited the Thunder, giving them the experience they needed to get over the plateau and reach the Finals. Durant’s future looks bright, especially if the Thunder is able to retain their talented core for years to come.
This year’s Finals should be the launch of the NBA’s next dynasty, whether it be the young Thunder led by Kevin Durant, or the experienced Heat led by LeBron James. Either way, one of the game’s biggest stars will win their first championship ring.