The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder will square off for the highly anticipated 2012 NBA Finals. This is the showdown everyone wanted to see and hoped for once the playoffs began. Arguably two of the NBA’s best players will go head-to-head while the two most athletic teams will ensure an exciting Finals. There are several outstanding matchups to watch for that will play a big role in which team will come out on top as the 2012 NBA Champions.
5. Chris Bosh vs. Serge Ibaka
Chris Bosh will try to remain healthy so he can help his team achieve the ultimate prize. There is no doubt he will play a critical role in Miami’s success and if he is unable to go it could be a major part of the team’s downfall. Serge Ibaka will have the daunting task to defend Bosh, which could make or break the Thunder’s championship chances. Ibaka will also have to be a force in the paint on offense to take some pressure off the perimeter shooters.
4. Russell Westbrook vs. Miami Defense
Russell Westbrook has been phenomenal this season and will have to turn his game up one more notch in order to defeat the Heat. Mario Chalmers will be doing most of the defensive work on Westbrook but it is going to take the entire Heat defense to stop him. Westbrook could single-handedly be the difference maker in a Finals matchup that has several. If Miami’s defense cannot stop him together, they may be forced to put Dwyane Wade on him, which could create other matchup problems elsewhere.
3. Perimeter Shooting vs. Perimeter Defense
There is no question this is a perimeter shooting Finals that will have little action in the post. Both teams shoot high percentages from the outside while they also have the capability to drive the paint once the defense is pushed out. The Thunder converts 47.1% from the field and 35.8% from beyond the arc. The Heat are right behind Oklahoma City in field goal percentage with 46.9% from the floor and a little ahead of them in three-point percentage with 35.9%. Defensively, the Thunder keeps teams at 42.7% from the field and 34.2% from beyond the arc, while the Heat are 43.4% and 36.3% respectively.
2. Dwyane Wade vs. James Harden
One of the more exciting matchups to watch will be Wade versus James Harden. Although Harden will be coming off the bench, there will still be plenty of times late in the game when these two players will be guarding each other. Harden has been fantastic this season and deserves every bit of the Sixth Man of the Year Award he received. He will play a critical role in the success of the Thunder just as Wade will with the Heat. If Harden is unable to slow down Wade offensively then Oklahoma City is in for a long Finals.
1. LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant
LeBron James and Kevin Durant is easily the most highly anticipated Finals matchup in recent memory. These two players are arguably the best in the NBA, at the very least the best this season, and are expected to put on a show like none other. James and Durant can both convert any shot on the court and drive to the basket with ease. They will throw down impressive dunks and make long-ranged three pointers with a hand in their face. The success of the Heat and Thunder rests on the shoulders of their respected captains. If James finally wants that hardware he has been seeking for many years then he will have to go above and beyond to answer the call. If Durant wants to give Oklahoma City their first NBA Championship in franchise history then he is going to have to play at a level we have never seen.