James, a three-time NBA Most Valuable Player going head-to-head against three-time NBA scoring champion in Durant has NBA commissioner, David Stern pinching himself right about now.
In the first matchup—and fifth all-time since 1967—between the NBA Most Valuable Player and scoring champion, the Miami Heat-Oklahoma City Thunder 2012 NBA Finals matchup has all the makings of an epic classic.
The last time that a NBA Most Valuable Player and scoring champion would square off in the NBA Finals was in 1997 between MVP Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz versus Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls.
All-time, the NBA regular-season scoring champion has won three out of four Finals against the NBA Most Valuable Player.
If this trend holds true to form, that is good news for Thunder—and nervous Cavaliers fans gnawing their collective teeth in having to see James play in his third NBA Finals with another opportunity to win his first ring.
James, who would score 31 points and 13 rebounds in leading the Heat to a 101-88 win over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, will now attempt to win his first NBA title—and silence the ardent legion—of critics and haters everywhere by cooling off the “Young Guns” of Oklahoma City.
For James to get there he will have to face a young and yet battle-tested Thunder team that has defeated the last two NBA champions in Dallas and Los Angeles and would comeback from an 18-point deficit against a gritty and championship-caliber team in San Antonio.
What the Thunder have that the Celtics do not have is youth, as the Thunder’s average age of their starting five is 25.1 as opposed to Boston’s 31.8
The Heat’s average age of their starting five is 28.
So, in a series role reversal, the Heat will be the older team in playing against the Thunder instead of being the younger and –proverbially—faster team as they were against the Celtics.
Another advantage that Oklahoma City has over Miami is the bench—specifically James Harden.
Harden, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the year, will present match-up problems for the Heat. and with Harden on the floor at the same time as All Star point guard Russell Westbrook, Miami’s championship quest will become much more difficult.
In what will is destined to be one of the all-time best NBA Finals, the Heat-Thunder series one will provide tantalizing matchups to watch in Westbrook vs Mario Chalmers at point guard, Dwyane Wade vs Thabo Sefolosha at shooting guard, Kendrick Perkins vs Udonis Haslem at power forward and Serge Ibaka going toe-to-toe with Chris Bosh in the post will make for unique sub plots all series long.
Make no mistake, James vs Durant will make for Nielsen ratings gold, which is sure to make Stern smile like the Cheshire Cat in “Alice in Wonderland”
Durant, who is 4-12 in head-to-head matchups against James, would split both matchups in 2012 with him.
For Thunder fans, the only number that matters now is four, as in the number of wins needs to hoist the franchise’s second NBA banner, and first since relocating from Seattle in 2008.
While James has put together one of the best individual years in NBA history, it looks as if fate—and karma—may smile on Durant in what will be a truly memorable and exciting series for the ages.
Prediction : Thunder in seven.
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