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Our trip down memory lane has shown that when "Big Threes" compete against each other, outcomes are determined by silent statistics (free throws, rebounding and ball movement), big-moment presence and luck (injuries).
Who has the edge in these key categories?
Free Throws (Edge: Heat)
Oklahoma City made the most free throws in the NBA during the regular season. However, they were also at the bottom of the league in free-throws attempts against (22nd).
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, were amongst the best in the league at both free throws made (eighth) and attempts against (12th). Expect the Heat to get to the line more frequently and to bait OKC to gamble on getting to the line.
Rebounding (Edge: Heat)
Going back to the 1984 playoffs, the Celtics won because Larry Bird went into "beast mode" on the boards.
The Heat's "Big Three" are quite simply much more capable than OKC's superstars of doing the same. Assuming LeBron James plays an aggressive game, notch up one win to James racking up a monster rebounding performance on the offensive boards.
Ball Movement (Even)
Both teams rely on transition offense and fast isolation plays for the bulk of their points.
Because both teams are also so good defensively, expect long periods of frenetic play, missed shots and turnovers. What could give OKC an edge in this category is Westbrook recently proved he can, in fact, play pure point guard style—he dished out 12 assists in Game 5 against the San Antonio Spurs.
Still, it's doubtful that Westbrook or Wade will revert to anchoring well-developed set plays in this series.
In a series that will involve a barrage of aggressive isolation plays to the hoop, expect one or two games to be determined simply by who gets to the line more. The Heat have more experience than the Thunder in this category.
Big Moment Presence (Edge: Thunder)
LeBron James' Game 7 Eastern Conference Finals performance against the Celtics proved that despite critics' opinions, James can come through in the fourth quarter. However, James did most of his outstanding work before the last three minutes of that game.
It's likely that one contest will be determined in the final minute. Thus far in the playoffs, Kevin "King Comeback" Durant has hit three game-winners. Both Durant and Harden have also hit timely shots to create some distance late in games.
Without hating on James' end-game here, Oklahoma City has an edge in this category. But it's more likely that the Heat will control the first 10 minutes of the fourth quarter sufficiently, so Durant will be unable to win games with two minutes left.
Luck (Edge: Thunder)
Who knows how the 1983 playoffs would have turned out had the Lakers not lost a huge chunk of their role players to injuries?
The Heat have already had to deal with significant injuries to two of their star players this year: Dwyane Wade in the regular season and Chris Bosh for a majority of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder are in pristine health. It appears that if an injury were to affect the NBA Finals, it will affect the Miami Heat. It's almost impossible to factor luck into a series, but if you are so inclined, there is the analysis.
Outcome (Heat in 6)
In what is going to be a frenetic and physical series, expect the Heat to show a little more control and poise than the younger, less-experienced Thunder. All top players will put in strong offensive performances, but the Heat will win this series at the free-throw line and on the boards.
Kevin Durant will pour in huge offensive output and will put in the first of what what will be many NBA Finals fourth-quarter heroics. However, LeBron James will perform well enough early on in the fourth to give the Heat sufficient control of the outcome in the end of a few of the games.