Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat -3 (Total: 193.5) – NBA Finals Game Five (Miami leads 3-1)
It can all end tonight. Nine years of questioning of Lebron James’s heart and tenacity, his ability to deliver in the clutch. The two years of incessant Heat bashing, the constant nit-picking, the searching for flaws followed by the validation after the inevitable ebbs and flows on an NBA season. It can all come to an end tonight.
Provided the Heat simply win ONE more game on their home floor.
One more game…
So can the Heat do it tonight? Can they block out all the noise long enough to block out all the noise permanently? Will the pressure of the ultimate moment be stream for the engine or smoke they instead choke on?
I have been reluctant to harken back to my loud and frequent proclamations that the Heat WOULD iwn the NBA Championship, and am still a little afraid to jinx it with the “I told you so” kiss of death. So instead I will say, yes, I think I was right all along. But just like most of you, I really doubted it a few times over the last two months.
The thing that changed in the last six playoff games? Lebron James. Not in a sense that he got “better” or “tried harder” as some have suggested, but to me the change is a more simple and less glamorous one. He simply shifted his game to maximize his physical advantages, which means going to the basket more and settling for jump shots less. Shooting guard? Small forward? Try POWER Forward (intentionally capitalized) this series. Lebron has been a battering ram and a simply unstoppable force that the athletic yet slighter Thunder cannot stop. I expect him to keep on battering away tonight and to be crying cradling a trophy in less than twelve hours from now.
But let’s not get carried away and say the Heat have dominated this series. For the most part, this has been a one or two possession series. It could be 3-1 Thunder just as easily. A pair of brain cramps eliminated (Harden and Westbrook’s fouls in Game 3 & 4 respectively) a foul called late (Game 2) and we are looking at a potentially different series. But the point is, it ISNT a different series, because when push came to shove the more veteran Heat have executed and delivered. The young Thunder have not. Simple but elegant. The Heat have been clutch. (Take that Lebron-haters!)
I like Miami tonight, but expect OKC to battle them. These have all been close games that Miami has covered on a few extra plays late. I expect the same game tonight. Close all the way, with Miami making (or perhaps OKC NOT making) a few plays late.
I’m not a fan of either team particularly, but I will smile a bit for Lebron cradling the trophy tonight. Perhaps then we can get to the business of appreciating the most dominant physical talent on Earth instead of critiquing an ill-plotted marketing campaign and TV commercial.
I like Westbrook to again score at will, but Lebron to do enough on Durant to make it a difficult 20-25 points for him and the Heat to win.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -3