Sunday, March 25, 2012

AC'S Spotlight-Thunder/Heat is this the NBA Finals?

Make no mistake about it, if you're an NBA fan, Heat/Thunder is the NBA Finals you want to see. You have the star power, the storylines and the theatre to make this one of the greatest series EVER. Yes I said it.

Tonight we saw a possible preview of that, with the Thunder defeating the Heat in Oklahoma City 103-87. One of the best matchups in the game if not the best between Kevin Durant and Lebron James went to Durant in a landslide. Durant displayed an MVP performance (28 pts 9reb 8ast) and James Harden controlled the game with his energy and efficiency. (19pts on 7 shots, 6 assists) Realize that Russell Westbrook was not only saddled with foul trouble but also shot 4/16 from the floor. If there was anything we saw tonight, it was Durant's growth and OKC's growth as we're all starting to believe in this team as a viable championship contender.

Of course we overrate the regular season. It's done all the time, some games are "statement" games that don't tell the story, while others are. This was a no doubt about it statement game from the Thunder, who needed to establish to Miami that they are capable of beating them. I think it makes their showdown 9 days from now in South Beach as important for Miami to take the Thunder back down a peg. The Heat didn't have their best performance tonight, turning the ball over a bunch and Lebron going 8/18, not to mention D-Wade only getting 10 shots and refusing to comment about the offense after the game, but this was more about Kevin Durant and James Harden than anything else.

More than the 28 points, was the 8 assists, and the playmaking ability that made Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins huge factors in this game. (Combined 35 points 19 boards) You add that with the great ability of James Harden to get in the paint almost at will it makes Oklahoma City that more of a difficult team to guard and stop. 26 assists and great ball movement is the recipe for OKC to be NBA champions.

Jeff Van Gundy illustrated this in the telecast tonight, Kevin Durant's improvement as a playmaker as come leaps and bounds from when his career started. Tonight the way he was able to get by Lebron not just to score, but to get Perkins/Ibaka and others baskets and easy shots was a great sign for him, and his defense was excellent. He took the challenge in guarding Lebron making him more of a prober than attacker using his length, and even taking on D-Wade for stretches in the 2nd quarter. You can not overrate how great Kevin Durant was tonight.

Obviously there's more basketball to be played and you can't count out teams like the Bulls, Lakers, and Spurs to make runs in their respective conferences against the Heat and Thunder. I say this though, the Heat/Thunder is a series that the basketball fan would enjoy because we see greatness against greatness. It's not only greatness on both sides, but we watch head to head matchups like Durant/Lebron which will be the matchup in the game for years to come. You occasionally will see Wade/Westbrook which in itself is awesome.

This could be the new rivalry, but it only will be if they see each other in the Finals. You need that playoff series to get the party started the right way. Miami/OKC, the way I see it, you can't go wrong.
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