NBA Finals 2012: In Search of the Unsung Finals Hero

Rob Mahoney@RobMahoneyNBA Lead WriterJune 18, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 17:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks to drive in the first quarter against Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 17, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.  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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

At a point just prior to this series, it seemed impossible to avoid: In our rush to analyze the performance of the most compelling stars of the NBA Finals, some invaluable contributor or another would be left by the wayside, unnoticed and overlooked in their essential contributions thanks to the glare of LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

But in one of the most-watched and most-covered series in NBA history, that's been anything but the case. Not only are the contributions of the most crucial role players well-documented, but there has yet to be any legitimately surprising performances.

We knew that Thabo Sefolosha was a standout perimeter defender long before he pulled double-duty against James and Dwyane Wade. Shane Battier had the potential to cause matchup problems before he proved his advantage with open three-pointer after open three-pointer. This was a series of known commodities, and though certain complementary players have been more valuable than others, none have done so in a way that truly defied expectation.

That hasn't made the basketball product any less stellar than you'd expect, but it has made for an almost stunning lack of surprises. This series has largely been shaped by James, Durant, Wade, Russell Westbrook, Chris Bosh and James Harden. Though those players rely on the screens, passes, rebounds, defense and shooting of their teammates, there's something to be said about a finals series in which all of the most pertinent parts are so cleanly accounted for.

There's even more to be said about a finals series in which all of the most pertinent parts are accounted for, yet it continues to amaze us. Even after we dispense with the need to use the NBA Finals as the coming-out party of some player or coach or another, this is just phenomenal competition between the two best teams in basketball.

It's fun, it's dynamic, it's star-driven and team-supported; this is the series we all so desperately wanted to see. Although nothing about it has been terribly surprising thus far, what need is there for revelation when we already have intrigue aplenty?