When thinking about potential matchups for the 2012 NBA Finals or any championship series in sports, the best games often come from the classic scenario of good versus evil.
What better representatives of good and evil are there in the NBA playoffs other than the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat?
Take Oklahoma City, for example—a baby-faced, young team built from a base of team chemistry and good old fashioned hard work. Led by Kevin Durant, a superstar who doesn’t act like one, the Thunder are a difficult team to hate on unless they have done something specific to anger you.
Then you have the Miami Heat—the team built through a historic offseason of acquisitions where talents were taken to South Beach, forming a monstrous trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Since James’ departure from Cleveland, he has often been considered a villain and that has translated into the Miami team as a whole.
Both of these teams are in position to move forward to their respective conference finals, which would be the next step in setting the stage for what could potentially be an NBA Finals clash of the ages.
Over the past few seasons, there hasn’t been much variety as to the Finals matchups. In 2006 and 2011 we saw the Mavericks against the Heat. In 2008 and 2010 we saw the Lakers against the Celtics. In 2009 it was the Lakers again, but this time against the Magic.
Don’t get me wrong—some of those series were very compelling and made for some fun basketball to watch, but it’s time for a new era of rivalries and maybe even dynasties and that starts with Oklahoma City playing against the Miami Heat.
The NBA has been lacking a classic good-versus-evil storyline in the Finals since the past few years have always had generally likable teams in the Finals. Take the Celtics vs. Lakers matchups, for example. These are two historic franchises with diehard fans for each. Unless you were a fan of a rival of the Celtics or Lakers, there were really no reasons to dislike either team with a passion.
Things are different for the Miami Heat. I’m not trying to be a hater on Miami here, but it is truly not a likable team. Outside of Florida, this team may get a lot of bandwagon fans, but there are still plenty of NBA fans who have a strong resentment towards the Heat since they essentially built a championship-caliber team overnight. This quick rise to prominence rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, especially traditionalists who believe teams should be built organically through drafting and developing players.
Oklahoma City, on the other hand, was built from the ground up. Its core is comprised of smart draft picks and the bench is deep with crafty and inexpensive free-agent pickups by GM Sam Presti.
The Thunder are essentially everything the Heat are not. They are a young, inexperienced team that plays with a quiet poise. The Heat are a dominant team full of veterans who are explosive forces on the court and they will let you know during the games.
These polar opposites is what fans want to see ,and the best part about these teams is that both of them are very, very good basketball teams hungry for a championship.
You can’t tell me that watching the NBA’s Most Valuable Player and the runner-up MVP leading their teams into battle to duke it out for a title wouldn’t be a great show. Neither of these teams are boring to watch and there’s a great chance the series could come down to six or seven games.
This is what the NBA not only wants, but it needs. This is compelling television at its finest. Whether you are a casual basketball fan or a diehard hoops fanatic, a showdown between these two fascinating teams would be the best bet if you wanted to watch the best possible matchup for the NBA Finals this summer.