If he played for Miami, James Harden would be the Heat’s fourth best player behind James, Wade and Bosh. The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year averaged over 18 points in the Western Conference finals and shot nearly 61 percent from three-point range. So, single-handedly, Harden outperformed the Heat’s entire bench in the conference championship round. Nick Collison is a solid defender, who averaged about 14 minutes per game against the Spurs. Daequan Cook, the former Heat first-round pick, played limited minutes against San Antonio but, overall, has had a productive postseason.
Both coaches have proven themselves among the game’s elite throughout the postseason. Thunder coach Scott Brooks did the seemingly impossible in making the proper adjustments against the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals. Led by revered coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs entered the West finals the winners of 18 straight games and then took a quick 2-0 lead in the series against the Thunder. Brooks steadied his team and the Thunder delivered four straight victories. What Erik Spoelstra accomplished in the second and third rounds of the playoffs might be even more impressive. The Heat adjusted to the loss of Chris Bosh in the Eastern Conference semifinals in time to salvage the series. In the East Finals, Spoelstra went head-to-head with Doc Rivers and won.
Got to give it to Oklahoma: This place in the middle of nowhere might be new to NBA basketball but they’ve thrown the support of an entire state behind the Thunder. The atmosphere inside Chesapeake Energy Arena rivals the energy of college football games down the road in Norman, Okla. For the simple fact that the Thunder plays its first two and potential final two games of the series at home, to edge goes to Oklahoma City.
Prediction: Thunder in 6