I’ve been waiting for a team to emerge as the most likely to bring down the Miami Heat in the finals, and after watching the Thunder play last night they might be the team to do it.
I realize they have struggled a bit since the All-Star break going 7-4 now and losing two games at home, but a big win against a solid team showed me they are regaining momentum on both sides of the ball. Kevin Durant is shooting the ball amazingly, and Russell Westbrook is starting to play with more control exemplified by his zero turnovers in last night’s game.
The Thunder are made-up of the perfect combination of youth, shooters, and athletic big men. The one thing that had been holding them back from taking it to the next level was their chemistry issues. Westbrook, in the past, had made it a personal agenda to outshine Durant which caused some controversy between the two. It appears they are playing a lot better together these days with Durant being the primary scorer, and Westbrook doing a much better job of facilitating and scoring when necessary.
The number of true title contenders is starting to wean itself down to a few teams. The Heat still appear to be the favorites, but I’m starting to like the Thunder’s chances more and more. They still needs to discover a player to become their consistent third scoring option. James Harden is usually this guy, but he has games where he disappears, or struggles from the field. Both Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins are utilized more on the defensive end collecting blocks and rebounds.
The Thunder are one of the few teams that can match the Heat’s one-two punch in Dwayne Wade and LeBron James with equally talented players. The only player separating them right now is Chris Bosh. Even though he has struggled to find his rhythm since coming to Miami he still has the ability to go for 20 and 10 any given night, and the Thunder don’t have a third option that can give them that sort of production.
The Heat will of course have to get through Chicago if they want to make it to the finals. I expect that to happen, and I also expect the Thunder to find their third scorer and make a run to the championship where we all know the Heat can lose.