The NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder is a dream matchup for the fans and NBA Commissioner David Stern.
The series gets underway at 9:00 p.m. (ET) from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are 5-point home favorites on the Don Best odds screen with a total of 195. There has already been some movement on the ‘over’ after opening at 194.
The series odds have Oklahoma City as solid 170 favorites and the Heat an enticing +150.
Stern is giddy to have arguably the two best players in the league going head-to-head for a title. Those are of course LeBron James and Kevin Durant, with the latter just 23-years-old, while the former is 27 and under far more pressure after losing to Dallas in the Finals last year.
These are the teams that most people predicted here before the season. They split their regular season meetings with the home team winning and covering each time. Turnovers were big in the March matchup with the Thunder forcing 20 of them in a 103-87 win as 2-point home favorites. That game went ‘under’ the 201½-point total.
The April encounter was a 98-93 Heat win as 3-point home chalk. They won the turnover battle 18-13 and the game again went ‘under’ with a 198½-point total.
Don Best Sports analyst Pat Williams thinks this series will more resemble that April meeting in terms of matchups. Shane Battier should stay in the starting lineup, guarding Oklahoma City’s top scoring threat, most likely Durant who has a major height advantage and causes a matchup problem for whoever guards him.
The term ‘Big 3’ will be thrown around a lot in this series as it pertains to both clubs. James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh earn that moniker for Miami and accounted for 2/3rds of team scoring in the regular season. Bosh could be moved into the starting lineup after coming off the bench for the last three Celtics game last round due to his abdominal injury.
Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are the amazing young trio for the Thunder who score even slightly more than the Heat group. However, Williams believes it’s going to be the bench players and wild-card guys that determine who gets the edge.
Lets’ start with Miami, who has Battier, Mario Chalmers and possibly Udonis Haslem as key supplementary parts. The Thunder counter with Thabo Sefolosha, Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka, who all played key roles in their 4-straight wins (and covers) to come back from an 0-2 deficit against San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals.
Williams like the series to be very interesting, but also up-tempo with the ‘over’ attractive. The opening line of 195 is a full 3½-points below either of the regular season meetings. Both teams like to shoot deep 3-point shots, which means long rebounds and easy fast break points the other way.
Game 2 will stay in the Midwest on Thursday, with the following three coming in South Beach. That 2-3-2 format is only used for the Finals and could play a big part in the ultimate winner.