NBA Finals 2012: LeBron James and the Heat vs. Kevin Durant and the Thunder

Dan SmithCorrespondent IJune 12, 2012

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 07:  (L-R) Dwyane Wade #3, LeBron James #6 and Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat react against the Boston Celtics in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 7, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The Miami Heat, with their Super Union of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, have made it through the injury-riddled East to return to the NBA Finals.

Their journey has been as chaotic as it was public. The injuries that have beset the NBA in this lockout-shortened year that made a mess of the league had their tendrils reach out to the Heat as well.

Chris Bosh, long an afterthought of the Heat free agents, missed the bulk of the series against the Indiana Pacers. The beaten-up Boston Celtics posed a threat to the Heat and the return of Chris Bosh.

After a Game 5 loss, the Heat got the shot in the arm they needed.

LeBron James went epic in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, and the talk of his legacy took a small break. The break ends tonight as the first game of the 2012 NBA Finals will tip in Oklahoma City.

The two best players in the NBA are set to face one another in what appears to be an amazing NBA Final matchup.

Kevin Durant has led the Thunder past the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder have also dispatched long-time NBA West stalwart franchises in the LA Lakers and SA Spurs.

The Spurs ran out to a 10-0 post season record before the Thunder beat them four straight times to win the West.

DENVER, CO - APRIL 23:  Seattle Sonics fans display signs as the support the Denver Nuggets against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2011 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, C
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The NBA fans in Seattle, Wash., must be wringing their hands as their relocated team is in its first NBA Finals since 1996.

The Supersonics had a terrible arena, and that was the cause for the team to leave Seattle.

Fans in Seattle might have to pull for the Miami Heat while the rest of the nation pulls for Oklahoma City.

Remember, there is a ton of vitriol pointed toward LeBron James for the way he has handled himself as he moved onto greener pastures from his days in Cleveland.

The Heat face the same problem as last year when they made their first trip to the NBA Finals since 2006. The Dallas Mavericks, like the Thunder this year, were a much deeper team.

The flaw in the design of the Heat is that they are far too top-heavy.

Shane Battier was a great pick-up for a team that needs any kind of veteran leadership it can afford. The draft has yielded good guards in Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole.

Mike Miller came on the cheap, and has been effective in stints when he is not injured. Udonis Haslem is the other holdover from the 2006 team.

The Heat, so desperate for quality big men, picked up Eddy Curry off of the scrap heap in hope he could give them something. 

The Heat appear to be the vast underdog in this series. The Thunder can match the Heat in star power with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

The Thunder have much more on their bench, as well with the likes of Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins.

MIAMI - JULY 09:  Head coach Erik Spoelstra (L) and President Pat Riley (R)  of the Miami Heat talk during a press conference after a welcome party for new teammates LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in M
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Derek Fisher has a good look at his sixth ring. He has made many clutch shots in big games of the past.

I like the Thunder in the coaching matchup as well. Scott Brooks looked to be overmatched in Games 1 and 2 of the West Finals against Gregg Popovich. In Game 3, Brooks made his adjustments, and the Spurs were run out of the series.

I will have faith in Eric Spoelstra the moment Pat Riley tells me to.

It is easy to pick against the Heat for a myriad of reasons. The fact that they are an underdog, though, creates an interesting dynamic.

They are not underdogs because they lack stars. They are lacking at the end of the bench, and that might not even make a difference.

If life was fair, then LeBron James would take his turn as NBA champion because Kevin Durant is still early in his career. If life was fair, LeBron might still be in Cleveland and the Thunder might still be the Sonics.

Life is not fair, but it is entertaining. This NBA Finals looks to be one for the ages.

It is too much to hope for seven games, and it would be a testament to the skill of James if it did get that far.

The Thunder is a deeper team with home court advantage, and I predict they will win the NBA Finals in six games.