NBA Playoffs 2012: Reasons Heat Will Dominate the Finals
Next up is the Oklahoma City Thunder. This series will be an absolute war. Intriguing stories come with this matchup. Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James and the quest for James to get his first ring are just some headlines.
While the Thunder do provide some tough matchups for the Heat, the team from South Beach has found their groove at the right time. With the numbers James is putting up and the contributions from his teammates, this could be the year the Heat win their second championship in franchise history.
Here's a look at why I see the Heat having an easier time than expected.
Getting Confidence at the Right Time
The Miami Heat seem to be getting hot at the right time, no pun intended. The Heat were very close to being eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Boston Celtics. After a 3-2 deficit, many questioned the mental toughness and willpower of this group.
The Heat have seemed to prove to everyone that they are still the team to beat. LeBron James had at least 25 points in all seven games of the series. Dwyane Wade has had first-half struggles for much of the series, but seemed to come alive when it mattered most.
More importantly, Chris Bosh seems to be as healthy as ever, contributing 19 points in Game 7. With the role players providing baskets, this Heat team can be a very tough out for the Thunder.
The Heat looked down and out after Game 5. Head coach Erik Spoelstra seemed to be back in the hot seat. James was about to be completely torn apart if he couldn't lead his team back to the NBA Finals, and the whole country questioned if this Heat team was mentally strong in late-game situations.
Seems like a lot to handle, right? Tell that to this passionate group. It wasn't always pretty, but Miami is back in the finals. This is the time where the Heat have to prove themselves the most.
They Have Been There Before
Last year's loss to the Dallas Mavericks wasn't easy on the Heat. Dirk Nowitzki and company completely tore the hearts out of this group. You would think the Heat would come out with a message in this year's NBA Finals.
By no means will it be easy, though. The Thunder have proved themselves to be a very hungry group themselves. Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are all clutch players who execute well in the late stages of the game. This was especially evident in their series against San Antonio.
In situations where it appeared the Thunder couldn't come back, they found a way. However, they have never been to this stage before.
Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Udonis Haslem have been to the finals three times.
LeBron James Is on a Mission
The three-time MVP wants to shut his critics up in a big way. James has heard it all from the media. He knows this series could be the biggest of his life.
With the numbers he's been putting up, though, this could be very possible. James has taken over games in the postseason, averaging 30.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists per.
Lebron is 0-2 in the NBA Finals. They say third time's a charm. We will have to see with King James.
Chris Bosh Is Back
He's back and better than ever. Chris Bosh has proved he is healthy and back on his game. The former Toronto Raptor is getting more minutes and making a huge difference coming off the bench for Miami.
Through scoring, offensive rebounding or his presence, the Heat feel more comfortable with Bosh on the court.
Bosh scored 19 points in Game 7 on 80 percent shooting. He was able to connect from long range and give the team a boost when needed.
Believe it or not, Bosh is the most important player for this Heat team. He's a consistent shooter, a big body and he has the ability to change a game. It's as simple as that.
The Role Players Are Providing Points
Just how big was Shane Battier in Game 7? The former Duke Blue Devil was able to provide big-time shots, going 4-of-9 from long range.
With guys like Battier, Mike Miller and Mario Chalmers consistently giving good minutes and performances, the Heat will be able to trust them in some crucial situations.
When Wade and James are double-teamed, these guys need to be able to hit shots. Other responsibilities include rebounding, hustling and dishing the ball out.
If these guys are doing their jobs, the Heat are a lot more than just the Big Three.