The New School vs. The Newer School!! EPIC!!

Posted: 2012/06/11 in Basketball, NBA
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

So, it’s  finally happening!

Starting Tuesday it’s the NBA Finals match-up that most basketball maniacs have been waiting for this entire season. On Tuesday we will finally have game 1 of the OKC Thunder vs. Miami Heat for the Larry O’brien trophy and league-wide bragging rights! Ooooh this one is exciting!

The Individual match-ups and stories for this year’s finals,  are some of the most compelling in decades. In the paint, we have the “forgotten men”  (who secretly keep it all together) Serge Ibaka vs Chris Bosh .  In the back-court we have “speed-limit” violators Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook in a “combo guard” battle for the ages (and maybe even for Westbrook’s name in the league).   We have the  the Heat’s collection of role players and bench pieces vs James Harden. And then there is is the BIG matchup…Lebron James vs Kevin Durant! MVP (Lebron) versus Primary competition for the prize. When you add in the  Glamour (Miami) vs. Grit (Oklahoma) of the cities involved this series starts to take on a near-mythical status. Is this the battle for basketball’s very soul? I may be exaggerating…but THAT’S HOW TRULY EXCITING this match-up is.

Let’s break it down:

Serge Ibaka vs. Chris Bosh

Often forgotten with all of the other star-power shooting off around the court, Serge and Chris have shown just how valuable they really are. It’s not exactly Russell vs. Chamberlain but the idea is surprisingly the same when you think about it. Chris’  main objective is going to be to S-C-O-R-E. We saw what happens when he isn’t a threat to score in the series with Boston…defenses collapse on Wade and make it tough for the Heat offense. Meanwhile, Ibaka has a role similar to Russell (the role is similar…not the player)…when he rebounds, defends and patrol’s the paint, he shuts the other team down while igniting the OKC offense. far from one-dimensional though, each will be required to work the opposite side of the court too.

speaking of both sides of the court, there are few in the league who get back and  forth  faster than…

Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook

Here is one of the “Main Events” of this year’s playoffs. Dwyane Wade vs. Russell Westbrook is very interesting. You have the (still very young) athletic Russell Westbrook going against who is essentially his player-mold in Wade. ‘Brooks has been very good in these playoffs, despite some spotty moments as the point guard for his team.  Wade experienced a tiny bit of scrutiny for his point-guard abilities when he first came into the league too. The Heat eventually realized that he was better as a BASKETBALL PLAYER and relieved him of the point duties like the Thunder did with Westbrook. The Thunder have Harden…the Heat got creative and brought in Lebron (after some hit or misses with Jason Williams , Carlos Arroyo and some guys we don’t even need to talk about). This battle will be a scorer/speed  master’s class and hopefully ‘Brooks will come prepared. If Wade demolishes him, offensively and/or defensively, those murmurs about OKC not winning it all with his unorthodox skill set (at his position) could get louder and run him out of town.

Harden vs The Heat “Collective”

This match-up could be the key to the entire series. James Harden has been AMAZING in these playoffs. As the primary ball-handler in some key situations and the second wave in the offensive attack, his importance can not be overstated. It has also been very celebrated among the basketball fans and analysts all over the country, while the Heat players have been slightly maligned. The Heat bench and role players have their work cut out for them…specifically Mike Miller, Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers. Collectively these guys will have to defend (keeping him out of the lane and honoring his outside shot) and OFFEND (hitting the shots that Lebron and Wade get for them and pushing the ball when necessary). The Heat role players have shown to be capable of doing this, but now it is for all of the “marbles” (and everyone is watching and waiting to pounce on them if they fail).

Which brings us to the TRUE “Main Event”…

Lebron James vs. Kevin Durant

Lebron James vs. Kevin Durant looks to be an all-time great match-up with some serious undertones going on. These two are the  wunderkinder of today’s NBA and the similarities end there. Lebron straight form highschool (when the league still did that) was immediately anointed the NEXT BIG THING. Kevin Durant came to the league after (a sensational) one year of college basketball, with questions about how his game (and body) would translate to the NBA. Lebron  has been a flashy superstar over the years and moved his talents to another city to optimize his legacy. Durant is a quiet assassin and stayed with the team that drafted him in the most low-key re-signing of a superstar in recent memory (I won’t go as far as calling Kevin the anti-Lebron…he is more of an anti-Carmelo to me). Kevin is a deadly outside Scorer/athlete and has become the most CLUTCH player in the league. Lebron is nearly impossible to stop in transition and his rebounding and passing have no equal at his position (probably EVER). Whose will is going to be imposed? It’s going to be fun to watch…if Lebron doesn’t “Clyde Drexler” Durant. Remember what Mike (the BIG mike) did to his supposed “rival” and NBA legend in his own right? Or does Durant have “something for” ‘Bron?

Watching the major questions  about these teams and individuals being answered, should be a treat for basketball fans all over the world. Will OKC’s inexperience finally catch up to them (that’s why they brought in Fisher)? Will the Heat break under the finals pressure again (they seemed to handle themselves supremely in the semi-finals and finals)? Is it better for the league to see smaller market OKC win it all (through building organically with the draft/developing talent and minor free agent tweaks) vs Miami’s bigger city “slickers” (buying superstar talents from under other teams and promising titles right away)…?

If it comes down to coaching, give Spoelstra a blind-fold and a cigarette vs OKC coach Scott Brooks (yeah, I said it).

I am a Heat fan but I kinda think it would be better for OKC to win! I love Wade and ‘Bron-‘Bron from their underdog days, so I wanna see them get a title to take the targets off of their backs (ironically, because that usually puts the target on a player’s back). I also love the OKC thunder (ever since Durant came into the league with all of the doubts) and watching them beat all the former champions has been thrilling …it is simultaneously a can’t lose and can’t win situation for me.

Hopefully this is the start of a new rivalry!

But as a Harden, I should probably be siding with OKC! 🙂

“Big Three battle” takes top billing…but there’s more underneath the surface!


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