NBA Playoff Predictions 2013: Why Heat and Thunder Are Bound for Finals Rematch

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2013

Feb 14, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the first half at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Do you really think there is a team out there capable of preventing the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder from meeting in an NBA Finals rematch this season?

OK, if you happen to be a fan of the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers or Memphis Grizzlies, the answer to that question is probably, "Yeah, I do!" I would expect nothing less. 

But I'm here to tell you that much like the winter is coming to Westeros and Essos, a rematch is coming to the NBA Finals. 

We could go purely by the regular season. The Miami Heat are currently 65-16, tops in the league, while the Thunder are 60-21, tops in the Western Conference. At one point this year the Heat won 27 straight games, while the Thunder have only lost three games in a row once this year and two games in a row twice.

We could base it on superstars. LeBron James is the game's best player, while Kevin Durant is the NBA's second-leading scorer. Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook are the best sidekicks in the NBA, and that Chris Bosh guy isn't exactly chopped liver, either. 

You could argue that the crafty Spurs might sneak past the Thunder or that Carmelo Anthony can shoot the Knicks past the Heat, but I don't see it. The Thunder proved they had surpassed the veteran Spurs in last year's playoffs, while Anthony might be able to lead the Knicks past the Heat in a game or two, but not over the course of a seven-game series. 

Then again, if Tracy McGrady finds the fountain of youth, perhaps the Spurs will be more dangerous than I suspect.

I'm kidding, obviously.

The Clippers are too reliant on Chris Paul to get past Oklahoma City, while the Grizzlies' defense, balance and depth make them a tough out, but their lack of a true superstar will keep them from entering the elite conversation.

Ditto for the Pacers in the East. 

I know it's boring to go with chalk, but get accustomed to these teams meeting in the Finals—this has all the makings of this generation's Celtics-Lakers rivalry from the 1980s. 

It has the top players in the game, teams that play well together and will likely stick together for several more years, prime examples of the modern game being run to perfection and just enough contrast—the Heat are tougher on defense, while the Thunder are better on the boards—to make the matchup intriguing. 

Be honest—is there another matchup you would rather see in the Finals? As a fan of the game, is there really a more compelling potential rivalry than one that could develop between the Heat and Thunder?

If you're being honest, the answer is no. These are clearly the league's top two teams, and when they meet, the level of play is absolutely thrilling. I say bring on the rematch.

And mark my words, it's coming.


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