It's finally here. Many predicted the NBA Finals match-up before the year even began, simply picking the two teams surrounding the two best players. But now it's finally a reality: Starting at 9 p.m. EST, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat will take on the Western Conference Champs in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Game 1 begins tonight in Oklahoma City, and Game 2 will be on Thursday in that same city before moving the series to Miami for Games 3, 4, and, if necessary, 5. Should the two teams need more games to settle the series -- which seems likely -- the conference champions will head back to Oklahoma City for Games 6 and 7.
For those of you trying to watch this game at home, we have a few live streaming options for you so you can watch the games online. Of course, if you have a television or cable access, all you need to do is switch to ABC at 9 p.m. EST to watch the game. To live stream the event, check out our solutions towards the bottom of the page.
The Road To The Finals
Both of these teams deserve to be where they are right now. Oklahoma City had its best season yet with its young guns in Durant, Westbrook, and James Harden off the bench, as well as Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins coming up big in their roles as, well, big men. The Thunder finished the NBA's lockout-abridged regular season 47-19, and the team has only lost three games in the entire 2012 playoffs.
Oklahoma City swept the defending NBA champions in the Dallas Mavericks before dropping their first game to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of its second-round match-up. The Thunder looked to be in trouble in the third series against the San Antonio Spurs, which won its first two games at home, but OKC surged back, winning the next four games and clinching the series.
The Miami Heat have had a much more difficult, much more scrutinized road to the NBA Finals. The Heat only finished a slightly-worse 46-20 in the regular season, despite plaguing injuries to Wade, Bosh, and others, and the team has struggled in the playoffs as they've continued. The Heat lost just one game to the Knicks in the first round, two games to the Indiana Pacers in the second round (falling behind 2-1 before winning the next three games), and losing three games to the Boston Celtics, needing to beat the veteran team in a Game 7 scenario. If this trend continues, Miami will lose four games in this next series, but that would mean they would lose the series.
Everyone seems to think that this will be the case: Miami will lose four games in the NBA Finals, and the Thunder will win. The Vegas line has the Thunder winning in six games, and many seem to believe this is the case.
The Thunder and Miami match up very well against each other. Oklahoma City has an equal share of young, quick players and big bodies around the rim. Miami, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded at a few positions -- namely, those occupied by James and Wade -- but the team is lacking in the paint, despite Bosh's presence.
Yet, everyone believes it will ultimately come down to the game's superstars in James, Wade, Durant, and Westbrook. James was the NBA MVP this year while Durant was the league's scoring champion, while Wade and Westbrook are both known for their high-flying acrobatics and their heady plays to the rim.
In the postseason, James has averaged almost 31 points a game with almost 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and two steals. Durant, on the other hand, has averaged about 28 points in the postseason, along with 8 rebounds and four assists. James can absolutely fill up the stats sheet compared to Durant, but Durant has a higher percentage from three-point territory (Durant's 36 percent to James' 28 percent), and Durant arguably has more role players to fill in what he lacks on the scoring end (which isn't much).
There are several ways to be able to watch Game 1 of the NBA Finals live online, whether you're on a desktop or laptop computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Firstly, there's First Row Sports, which will have a few annoying pop-up ads, but will definitely carry more than a few different streams to follow. Simply click Basketball, find the Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game, and you're watching a live stream! If it isn't working, try refreshing the page or click another one of the possible links at the top of that page.
Another solution you can try would be Veetle, which includes ways to broadcast and watch live streams of TV shows, movies, concerts and sporting events. On the Channels page, click Categories, then Sports. You'll be taken to a page with a bunch of streams. Some of them will include the live stream to the Heat vs. Thunder game itself, while some pages will just include links to the pages with the streams. Visit any page on here and you'll likely find what you're looking for.
Of course, if these options still don't work (they will, don't worry), try this search.
After an extremely emotional Game 7, the Miami Heat are still likely reeling from the long, hard-fought series with the Celtics. The Heat haven't had much time to prepare, and the team had to travel to OKC to play in this game. The Thunder, meanwhile, have had plenty of time to prepare for any scenario, and they're on their home court for the first game of the Finals. They'll be feeling good, the crowd will be energetic, and Miami will likely feel overwhelmed, at least at the beginning.
As the Heat are wont to do, they will likely make a comeback in the second half. But knowing how the Thunder like to pour it on, the first-half deficit will likely be too big to overcome by the end of the game. Too many clutch shots from Harden, Westbrook and Durant, and not enough from Wade, Bosh and James.
Predicted Score: Oklahoma City Thunder beat Miami Heat, 94-82