The Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder combined to win 93 games during the NBA’s regular season. Each team finished in second place in their respective conference. As unlikely as it may seem, the NBA and most of its fans are still rooting for this matchup to take place.
On paper, who would not be rooting for this matchup?
You would get to see arguably the two most athletically gifted basketball teams in the world play one another. On top of that, you would get to see the two best individual players in LeBron James and Kevin Durant square-off.
As Bleacher Report’s own Chris Trapasso put it “the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder are so athletically jaw-dropping, so tremendously skilled, long and loaded with incredible shot-making ability, all basketball fans should be rooting for these teams to clash in the NBA Finals.”
If the Heat and the Thunder square-off in the finals, you would not have to endure a slow-paced series that would yield two teams composed of geriatric basketball players like the San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics (my apologies to the basketball purists out there).
Before we move any further, let’s take a look back at where these two playoff series have already been.
San Antonio jumped out to a 2-0 series lead before the Thunder stormed back with three straight victories. Taking a 3-2 series lead, the Thunder re-established their athletic dominance over the older Spurs.
In the Thunder’s three victories, Kevin Durant had led the team in scoring and averaged over 28 PPG.
In the Eastern Conference, the much favored Miami Heat quickly jumped out to a 2-0 series lead. The grizzled Celtics were not ready to concede and struck back with three straight victories. With the 3-2 series lead now in hand, the Celtics have proven once again their style of play can work.
The Celtics’ defense was able to hold the Miami Heat to an average of only 92 points over the Celtics three victories.
The question remains: Why are the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder destined to face each other in the 2012 NBA Finals?
The simple answer is because the NBA wants this matchup to happen.
Every time the San Antonio Spurs make the NBA Finals, the finals’ television ratings have been terrible. Can you imagine the David Stern media-driven hype if LeBron and the Heat face off against Kevin Durant and the Thunder?
Durant led everyone in scoring during the regular season averaging 28 PPG. In addition to his 28 PPG, Durant averaged 8.0 RPG and 3.5 APG.
Soon to be league MVP LeBron James could not be out-done. James finished the regular season third on the scoring list, averaging 27.1 PPG. With his 27.1 scoring average, LeBron also averaged 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game.
If those numbers are not enough to get you thinking that David Stern and the NBA powers-to-be want this matchup to happen, then what about this? In the playoffs, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are two of the top four scorers. Both of these prolific young talents are averaging just a shade less than 30 PPG.
David Stern’s finals wish-list criteria No. 1: two headlining superstars who are averaging nearly 30 PPG to sell to the media and our fans.
Check that box off.
The wealth for these two franchises runs even deeper than just one individual player.
Both the Heat and the Thunder finished the regular season ranked in the top 10 in the league in scoring.
Dwyane Wade already has a NBA championship under his belt and has only seen his postseason numbers increase since teaming-up with LeBron.
With as much scoring as the Heat are able to produce each night, the Thunder are capable of matching their scoring each step of the way.
In addition to Durant’s impressive regular season and playoff numbers, Russell Westbrook has continued to impress. This postseason, Westbrook is averaging 21.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists.
Throw into the scoring equation, 2012 Sixth Man of the Year James Harden, and the Thunder’s scoring capabilities might be as unheralded as the Heat's.
David Stern’s finals wish-list No. 2: two high-powered offenses play each other, so the games will be exciting while also staying close.
Check that box off too.
The final television ratings clincher for David Stern and the NBA has to be the storyline a final between the Heat and the Thunder would produce.
Imagine the headlines pitting the hated big-market Miami Heat against the small-market and lowly Oklahoma City Thunder.
Even the most fair-weather of NBA fans will tune-in to see this proverbial David verse Goliath matchup.
Every fan of every NBA team LeBron James spurred in his summer of free agency, will tune-in to root against the Miami Heat and the former King James.
The NBA will love to watch these fair-weather fans tune-in to root for and side with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Why would a fair-weather fan not love the Thunder? The media has been telling us for years that Oklahoma City has built this team “the right way.” They did not try to poach players from other teams like the Miami Heat; instead, the Thunder built their franchise through the NBA draft.
David Stern’s finals wish-list No. 3: have two NBA teams play in the finals that will create media driven drama.
Check that box off also.
The question was poised: What makes the Heat verse the Thunder destined for the NBA Finals?
High-scoring fast-paced games.
Media driven drama.
This series is destined to happen because David Stern can read the writing on the wall. He sees huge television ratings and big money coming the NBA’s way. The media circus that would surround an NBA Finals with this much star potential would be unparalleled.
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