The 2012 NBA Finals: Five Reasons the Heat Will Win

Best head-to-head match-up in ages?
The 3-time MVP vs the 3-time scoring champion.

We wont get Kobe-LeBron this year in the NBA Finals (probably never) BUT we got something much better in LeBron vs Durant. This could be a match-up that could happen in the next couple of years. The two best players in the world going against each other in the biggest stage in basketball. Im so excited for this one! The OKC Thunder are slight favorites and they have home court advantage. The Miami Heat can surely win this series and here are five reasons why:

  1. Defense. Basketball coaches and analysts say that defense wins championships. The Heat plays excellent defense and they are the best defensive team in the playoffs. They got to the Finals by limiting their opponents to 88 points per game and have a +8 average winning margin. Defense has been their identity since last year and also in the regular season (top 5). In contrast, the Thunder is a decent defensive team but they are more known for their offensive firepower. The Thunder gave up almost 96 points per game in the playoffs and 97 during the regular season (17th in NBA). 
  2. Turnovers. The Thunder is averaging less turnovers in the playoffs compared to the regular season where they were the worst. They have been more secure with the ball in the playoffs and part of that can be attributed to the type of defense they have faced. The Heat is the best team in forcing and generating turnovers from their opponents. The Heat were tops in that department for the whole year and the playoffs. They have superb perimeter defenders in James and Wade plus excellent man-to-man defenders in Haslem and Battier. If the Heat can frustrate the Thunder into mindless mistakes, we all know what the Heat does to fast break opportunities. 
  3. Penetration. The Heat have the best combo when it comes to attacking the rim (see Wade photo). Their drives and penetration will force the Thunder to send help and leave the Heat shooters open. Those shooters are more than capable when left open (Battier, Miller, Chalmers and Bosh). Another scenario is the early foul trouble that could befall Ibaka and Perkins when they defend the hoop from Wade and James. The outside shooting that Bosh provides will hinder his defender from collapsing to the paint quickly and easily. The slow rotations could result into whistles that favor the Heat

  4. Remember this dunk? This happened in 2011. Will there
    be more of this in the 2012 NBA Finals? I sure hope so.
  5. Post Offense. The Heat can utilize post-ups and low post sets from their Big 3 while the Thunder do not have any threats from the post. James can out-muscle his defender and the Thunder might double team him which opens up lanes for more drives from Wade and shots for their shooters. Wade can also play in the post when against Harden or Westbrook and that could result in fouls from the Thunder. Meanwhile, Bosh is the most effective post player the Heat has and just the threat of him posting-up every now and then should give the Thunder some problems in their defensive coverage. Should the put Perkins on Bosh when he posts-up? Or Ibaka when there are the threats of a jumper and drive? 
  6. Better Big 3. Both teams have arguably the best Big 3s in the NBA. The Heat has the advantage of having a better and more polished Big 3 than the Thunder. With Chris Bosh Bosh feeling better and performing well (he was making treys in Game 7), the Heat 3 have a better offensive repertoire and their skill sets mesh better on the court. Defensively, they are a better bunch than the Thunder with Wade being the best blocking guard in the game and LeBron the best two-way player. The Heat 3 have more experience in the Finals and that could result in playing with more poise and calm under the pressure. The Heat 3 can have an impact in the game without the ball in their hands while the Thunder 3 (especially Westbrook) need the ball in their hands to have an impact in the game. 
X-Factors: Battier vs. Sefolosha. Both guys are superb defenders and they will each have a chance to guard the best players on the other team. Battier has the advantage from the perimeter while Thabo has more of an inside game. Ultimately, the player who makes more baskets and gets more offensive fouls could dictate who stays on the floor more and helps their team win.

Key Match-up: Bosh/Haslem vs. Perkins/Collison/Ibaka. LeBron and Durant will probably cancel each other out. The same could be said between Wade vs. Westbrook while Harden can own the whole Heat bench. That leaves Bosh to compensate for the production of Harden. If the Thunder Bigs can negate the impact of Bosh, the Heat will have a hard time winning the series. The Heat needs Bosh and occasionally Haslem, to outplay the Thunder front court because the back court matchups already belong to the Thunder.

Prediction: Thunder in 7. On paper, the Thunder is a better team right now. They dominated the Western Conference and got to the Finals in 3 fewer games than the Heat. The Thunder are young, fast and well-rested and with their loud crowd in OKC, they could bombard the Heat early and often. Still, the Thunder relies too much on jumpers and if those dont start falling, they could be pressured into forcing the action and committing turnovers which the Heat will feast on. Close games help the Thunder with Kid Clutch able to make clutch shots. This series could end on the final shot of Game 7 and the Thunder have arguably the best clutch shooter in the game.  

Fan Pick: Heat in 6. Last year, I picked the Heat to win in 6 vs. the Mavericks. On paper, the Heat was better but the Mavs still won. The same thing could happen this year. Stranger things have happened. 

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