Okay, so now we’ve reached the end of the 2012-13 NBA season before the season has even begun; that’s the general thesis behind any season preview, that and to attempt to correctly predict every thing which is about to transpire over the next seven months or so.
Now that I’ve predicted the Oklahoma City Thunder and defending champion Miami Heat to both reach the 2013 NBA Finals in a rematch of last season’s championship series it is now time to breakdown what I feel will occur and which team I think will win the Larry O’ Brien trophy following what should be an extraordinary series.
For starters this series will once again pit the two top players in the NBA up against one another when LeBron James and Kevin Durant do battle for every bucket scored, every rebounded grabbed or every loose ball earned. James and Durant have become close off of the court with earning gold medals for the USA Olympic team together and working out together during the off-season for the second consecutive year but that won’t keep either one from going after the other on the court with a championship on line.
Durant is going to need to get one sooner than later before he begins hearing all the chatter for the media and fans as to when will he get his title. James is going to to need to obtain another one sooner than later in order to keep all of his nay-sayers at bay before they begin coming out of the wood-works proclaiming that he can’t win more than just the one. Basically with that being said on both of their parts both Durant and James need and want to win the NBA Championship at the end of the season which means that each every night of this proposed Finals meeting they should be leaving everything all out on the court. Let’s call this battle even.
Next let’s focus on the Dwayne Wade and Russell Westbrook match up in which I think it is safe to say that one player is improving still while the other may be on the beginning of a decline. Westbrook needs to dominate this match up in order for the Thunder to win this series. He is younger than Wade, quicker than Wade, more athletic than Wade and at this point and time and their careers maybe better than Wade also. If Westbrook can remain level headed and stay focused on playing well all-around then this match up should easily go to the Thunder which could be the difference in winning a ring or not. Advantage Oklahoma City.
With James Harden no longer wearing the OKC Blue, White and Orange Serge Ibaka will have to step his game up this season and become the team’s third best player solidifying a new “Big Three” in Loud City. With that being said the next focal point in this series will be the battle between Ibaka and Chris Bosh for supremacy inside of the paint. Both players can present completely different things to each of their teams which makes this dual that much more important. Ibaka is going to give the Thunder several blocked shots per night, but what he needs to do is transform his incredible leaping ability into more rebounds and ferocious slam dunks as well. If he can do that then the Thunder will have the advantage here as well. Bosh is a silky smooth mid-range shooter who will attempt to lure Ibaka out of the paint creating an open lane for James and Wade to drive whenever they can. If Bosh can successfully knock down jumpers and cause this then the Heat will have the advantage here. Let’s call this one a draw as well.
The final component to take a look at in this series is that of the reserve players and both teams have a few guys that can enter the game and provide an instant lift for the teams. Ray Allen, Norris Cole and possibly Rashard Lewis are those players for Miami while the Thunder have a few more in the forms of Kevin Martin, Eric Maynor, Nick Collison and possibly the rookie Perry Jones III. Which ever team’s bench steps up and gives more help to the awesome array of starters that they possess then that will be the team who will win it all at the conclusion of this season. I think the Thunder have the advantage in this department especially if PJ3 and fellow 2012 first-round draft pick Jeremy Lamb pan out as they should as NBA players.
In the end I’ll take the Thunder to continue their progress season after season and win this series in seven games. This series will be one of the better Finals that we’ve ever had a chance to witness with two franchises who will be battling it out for the next few seasons on this same stage; last year was just the beginning.