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2011 NBA Playoffs: 10 Reasons the Heat Will Meet the Thunder in the NBA Finals

Pat MarrujoContributor IMay 12, 2011

2011 NBA Playoffs: 10 Reasons the Heat Will Meet the Thunder in the NBA Finals

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    MIAMI, FL - MARCH 16:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives by Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during a game at American Airlines Arena on March 16, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, b
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    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

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 11:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is congratulated by Dwyane Wade #3 during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Florid
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    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.

    A championship.

9 . Domination on the Glass

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    WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18:  Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat grabs a rebound against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on December 18, 2010 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or us
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    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

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    MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 07: O.J. Mayo #32 of the  Memphis Grizzlies shoots the ball while defended by  Serge Ibaka #9 and Thabo Sefolosha #2 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum o
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    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

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    MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 09:  Kendrick Perkins #5 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrates during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 9, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee.
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    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

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 01:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics passes around LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 1, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO U
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    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

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    MIAMI, FL - APRIL 16:  Forward Chris Bosh #1 of the  Miami Heat celebrates with teammate LeBron James #6 after a dunk against the Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Arena in game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoff
    Marc Serota/Getty Images

    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

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    OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - MAY 03:  Guard James Harden #13 of the Oklahoma City Thunder takes a shot against Mike Conley #11 of the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 3, 2011 at Oklahoma City Arena
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    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?

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    MIAMI, FL - MARCH 16:  Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder celebrate after a 3 pointer during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on March 16, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ack
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    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

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    BOSTON, MA - MAY 07: Dwyane Wade #3 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat walk on the court near the end of the game against the Boston Celtics in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 7, 2011 at the TD Garden in
    Elsa/Getty Images

    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?

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    MIAMI, FL - MAY 11:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat hits a late 3 pointer over Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2011 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Arena on May 11, 2011 in Miami, Flo
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    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.

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