By Dennis Berry
The NBA Finals are set and we get the match up that may well shape the NBA for the next 5-10 years. The Oklahoma City Thunder will host the Miami Heat in game one of the Finals on Tuesday night.
This is the match up that many NBA fans wanted to see. The Heat have a Big 3 with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and LeBron James. The Thunder have a Big 3 with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant.
It’s not just an NBA championship that is on the line. Here a few story lines to keep your eye one during the series.
This will be a battle of spending money to build a team versus using the draft.
The Heat were built using free agency. Two years ago they brought in James and Bosh to team with Wade. With most of their money tied up between those three players, they don’t have much money to spend on other players. So they settle for players who will take the minimum in search of a title.
The Thunder was build through the draft. In 2007 they used the second pick to draft Kevin Durant. In 2008 they used the fourth overall pick to bring in Russell Westbrook and the 24th pick to get Serge Ibaka. In 2009 they used the third overall pick to draft James Harden.
Not every team can spend the money like Miami did to form their team. If they win will more of the league’s best players attempt to join forces to bring down the Heat? If the Thunder win, perhaps more teams will realize that they can build a team through the draft and try to improve their scouting system.
Whichever team wins the title could be on their way to dynasty run. When the Heat put together their big three they talked about winning multiple NBA titles. After losing Dallas last year, they came into this season with only one goal: win a title. One title will not be enough. They only way that formation of the Heat’s big three will be considered a success is if they win multiple titles.
The Thunder are one of the youngest teams in the league. Harden is 22, Westbrook is 23, Durant is 23, Ibaka is 22. The core of the Thunder of have been together threw a lot. They grew up as they learned to win in this league. Making the playoffs as an eighth seed, then making it to the conference finals last year, and now breaking through to the finals.
It is hard imagine that this will be the final trip to the NBA finals for either team.
Two of the best players in the game today get their chance to win their first NBA title. The Thunder’s Kevin Durant and the Heat’s LeBron James.
Both players have won multiple awards in the NBA. Both were named Rookies of the Year; James in 2004 and Durant in 2008. Both have led the NBA in scoring; James in 2008 and Durant has done it the last three seasons. Each have been All-NBA first team selections; Durant the last three years and James the last five and six overall. Each have won All-Star game MVP’s; Durant this past season and James in 2006 and 2008.
One award that James has that Durant does not is the MVP. James has won three MVP awards. Durant will no doubt win a MVP award in the future.
Whichever player leads his team to a title will probably take over as the top player in the league. If James is going to been seen as the best player in the league, he has to win this series. The one thing that has been missing from James resume is the NBA title. He is already 0-2 in the NBA Finals, another lose would be hard for James to overcome.
On the other side, a NBA title would push Durant to superstar status. He is already considered the best younger scorer in the league, now he has a chance to lead his team to a title. If he did it against James and the Heat, would surpass James as the best player in the league?