- Dick Vitale, College Basketball analyst
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The NBA Finals should create excitement galore as the Heat and Thunder should put on a great show. The league's two best players will go head-to-head, and they will be in a spotlight that will shine brightly.
While LeBron James and Kevin Durant will be the focal point of media scrutiny, this series will be decided by more than just their play. The Heat found a way to beat the veteran Celtics team, coming back from a 3-2 series deficit. Winning Game 6 in Boston really gave Erik Spoelstra's team a confidence boost. James stepped up big-time and was sensational, scoring 45 points in the win.
You can say the same thing about the way Durant came through against a San Antonio team that posted an amazing 20-game win streak before falling to the Thunder. That was an unbelievable, dramatic series, coming back from 2-0 down to beat the Spurs. This young, athletic, explosive team is a lot more than just Durant, although he is certainly a vital part.
Oklahoma City surrounds Durant with a solid supporting cast. Russell Westbrook is an outstanding, explosive guard whose perimeter play makes him among the elite at his position. He is so athletic and also does a super job on the defensive end. Then you look at the kind of dynamic, shot-blocking effort the team gets out of Serge Ibaka. His presence was felt against Tim Duncan and the Spurs.
Off the bench, the Thunder has the best sixth man in the game in James Harden. He can score quickly as a difference-maker. Just look at what he did against San Antonio and you have to be impressed.
Oklahoma City has matured under the leadership of an underrated coach in Scott Brooks. This is a young and talented team that has great quickness and the ability to score in transition.
On the other side, Miami has tasted the competition of playing in a championship series. Yes, it was an L against Dallas a year ago, but they have grown from that setback and handled adversity. The experience of having played in the Finals a season ago is a major positive heading into this series. I believe that experience is vital.
How good is the Heat trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh? The Celtics were ahead in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals with eight minutes left, and then the big three stepped up. They willed the team to the winner's circle by making big play after big play. Shot selection was a huge factor as Miami took advantage.
In breaking down their play, Bosh stretches the defense with his shot-making ability from the perimeter. It opens up angles and driving space for LeBron and Wade. James has a chip on his shoulder, showing the world just how good he is.
I give LeBron a slight edge over Durant because of his ability to defend. James' versatility, the ability to pass and rebound, as well as score, makes him the best of the best out there.
All of the haters and critics out there are waiting for him to make a mistake. They cannot wait to jump on him. Let me tell you, he and Durant are both quality guys off of the court as well as on it. They are the two best in the game.
When it is all said and done, the Vitale Bald Dome Index (VBDI) says LeBron and company will find a way to win in seven games. He is doing everything he can to quiet the critics. They claim he cannot make the big play or win the big game. Give me a break. Just look back at the Indiana series when Chris Bosh went down. Go check out Game 6 in Boston, when James had one of the greatest all-around performances in playoff history.
We should all be half as successful in what we do in life as LeBron James is on a basketball court.
It will be a terrific series. I feel Wade, Bosh and company will help LeBron get that championship ring. I also look for key contributions from Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, as Miami cuts down the nets and gets King James that elusive title. It will put him in a different light once he wins a title.