Late Wednesday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder won the Western Conference, beating the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6.
Early in the series between the Spurs and the Thunder, it looked like there was a chance that the Thunder could have gone out the same way the Los Angeles Clippers did, getting swept in Game 4.
The Thunder never really dominated the Spurs in the entire series. Even on Wednesday, with the Thunder playing one of the best games of their postseason, they never maintained a huge lead for long.
The Thunder made an extraordinary number of three-pointers and played an outstanding all-around game, but it was a game that still could have gone either way. The Spurs are that good; neither Miami nor Boston could have handled that series the way the Thunder did.
If the Thunder can beat the Spurs in six games, then what are they going to do to the Boston Celtics or the Miami Heat?
Here are four daring predictions for the NBA Finals.
Depending on your perspective, predicting that the Miami Heat will beat the Boston Celtics in Game 7 could be a daring prediction or just a reality.
It's easy to forget that Miami is the favorite, not only in the series with the Celtics, but to win the Eastern Conference, after the Chicago Bulls were disadvantaged and then shut down as a result of Derrick Rose's postseason-ending injury.
Most of the favorites to win the title were in the Western Conference.
As we watch the Heat struggle against the Celtics, we realize that we have seen this act before. The Heat sometimes fall apart, and it's something we have come to expect.
However, the Heat will make a comeback in Games 6 and 7 to win the Eastern Conference. It’s still much too early for Miami to fall apart. It’s not clutch time yet.
The Heat wait until the NBA Finals to really break down.
The Heat offense can be controlled and is an easy target, as the Celtics have figured out.
The Thunder had to move mountains to get where they are right now. Miami didn't have a cakewalk, but it didn't have to play the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and then the San Antonio Spurs.
The level of repetitive competition wasn't on par with what the Thunder had to face.
If Miami were in the Western Conference, it wouldn't be an NBA Finals guarantee. The Heat can compete with teams like the Spurs, but they can't beat teams like them in a best-of-seven series. They lack that special something that puts them over the edge.
The Heat can match good teams, but they can't beat them.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will match whatever the other team has on the board. And then some.
The series between the Heat and Thunder will be one of extremely close scores. Miami is much better than it's given credit for, especially when you compare its numbers with those of the Thunder.
Durant and Westbrook have very similar postseason numbers to those of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
Durant can play the entire game, as he did on Wednesday, when he played the whole 48 minutes and finished with 34 points. However, statistically in the postseason, James has played better.
A faceoff between Kevin Durant and LeBron James is what people what to see. LeBron’s MVP award—for which Durant was the closest runner-up—will be completely pointless if LeBron can’t beat Durant on the court.
It might even damage the validity of the award itself.
Faith in LeBron comes and goes, but there have been many points during these playoffs where it looked like he was going to bring a championship to Miami. There was certainly very little doubt that the Heat would make it to the Eastern Conference finals.
Durant plays better in the clutch and was the highest points scorer in the regular season. Even if LeBron knows that he might not be able to win the championship over the Thunder, he stands a good chance of reminding everyone why he won the MVP award over Durant.