2011 NBA Playoffs: 10 Reasons the Heat Will Meet the Thunder in the NBA Finals
The defending champions Los Angeles Lakers are out of the way and now it is time to crown a new champion.
After the Miami Heat eliminated the Boston Celtics, Miami has seemingly become the new favorites. While out west, the Thunder are about to put away the pesky Grizzlies and battle with Dallas for the Western Conference Crown.
The following are 10 reasons a Heat vs. Thunder NBA Finals will happen.
10. Miami Is at Their Best
The Heat had their ups and downs in the regular season, but might be playing their best basketball of the season right now.
They have good ball movement, are rebounding well are playing phenomenal defense. This team is vastly improved and has showed plenty of maturity.
Now that they have slain the beast that is the Boston Celtics, the Heat have but one thing on their mind.
9 . Domination on the Glass
Oklahoma City and Miami are first and third in rebounding thus far in the playoffs. Both teams are doing their jobs controlling the glass.
Oklahoma City does not have a single player averaging nine boards a night, but have five players averaging over five rebounds. What makes the Thunder so tough is that their guards, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Thabo Sefolosha, are great rebounders.
The Heat win the rebounding battle because of the big three. LeBron James is averaging 9.4 rebounds, Dwayne Wade averages 7.6 and Chris Bosh averages a team high 9.6 rebounds per game.
8. Serge Ibaka Is a Beast
Serge Ibaka is a little known power forward out of Zaire, but he is starting to gain some notoriety.
Ibaka is averaging 10.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, and both are higher than his regular season average. But the statistic that really represents Ibaka's style of play is his block average.
He is averaging 4.1 blocks per game. That is two more blocks per game than Joakim Noah, who ranks second in the statistic.
7. Thunder Can Play Fast and Physical
Oklahoma City was dubbed the biggest winner at the trade deadline when they traded for Kendrick Perkins. With Perkins in the starting lineup, it transformed this Thunder team.
They now have the ability to play up a speed game and a power game.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden have the ability to beat teams up and down the court. Likewise, the frontcourt of Ibaka and Perkins can rough teams up with their physicality.
This is key for the Thunder, because it allows them to matchup well with any team in the NBA.
6. Miami’s Defense
The Heat was one of the league's best defensive teams all season. Their athleticism and versatility allows them to throw a lot of different matchups at teams.
LeBron James can guard just about any position on the court. He can hang with the fastest point guards and muscle it out with the toughest post players in the game.
Miami also has strong defensive role players. James Jones, Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony are all proven defenders.
5. Bosh and LeBron Dominating the Rebound Game
I have already touched on the rebounding ability of these two teams, but Bosh and LeBron deserve their own slide.
Bosh and James average a combined 19 rebounds per game. When those two are on the court together, the Heat control the glass.
What makes them such great rebounders is their combination of size and speed. They can block someone out just as easily as they can sneak by someone for the ball.
4. Solid Sixth Men
Both the Thunder and the Heat have very underrated sixth men.
The Thunder have James Harden. He is an off guard that can beat you with his jump shot and with his unrelenting drive. Not only is Harden an offensive player, but he is also a lockdown defender.
James Jones of the Heat does not have the most impressive statistics, but he does plenty of good things for his team. Jones is a reliable outside shooter and a tough defender.
Jones proved his worth in Game 1 of the Celtics series in which he dropped 25 points.
3. Westbrook and Durant: The Best Duo in the NBA?
Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are unstoppable. Throughout the season, they were the top scoring duo in the league, and they have maintained that honor into the postseason.
What makes them so tough is that both players can beat you in a number of different ways.
Westbrook has one of the best drives in the NBA and has a reliable mid-range game. The only knock on his game is that he does not distribute as well as he should.
Durant might be the most versatile scorer alive. He is a deadeye from deep and beats people inside with his length.
2. But Really, Wade and James Are the Best Duo in the NBA
It is difficult to argue that there is a better duo than Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. There are very few better duos in the history of the NBA.
Both of these guys can do it all. They are incredible passers, solid rebounders, good defenders and maybe the best athletes in the league.
Wade is currently averaging 26.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and five assists per game.
In the postseason, LeBron is averaging 26.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game.
LeBron and Wade are both putting up some ridiculous numbers and have no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
1. LeBron James Is Becoming a Closer?
Anyone who watched Game 5 against Boston knows that LeBron was the closer in that game. He proved his critics wrong and was absolutely unstoppable at the end of the game.
He scored Miami’s last 10 points to lead his team to a 97-87 victory over the Celtics.
I know it was only one game, but LeBron was unbelievable. If this is what we can expect from the James here on out, then I am not sure anyone will be able to stop the Miami Heat.
Do not be surprised if the King gets his first ring in 2011.