One of the most anticipated NBA Finals in the history of the league is finally here.
The Miami Heat take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 Tuesday night.
After being favored in almost every game this season, the Heat are actually not expected by many to win this series. Miami is a plus 145 underdog to win the championship, according to the online sportsbook Bovada. OKC is a minus 165 favorite.
The Thunder are one of the few teams that would be expected to beat the Heat. They won more games in the regular season, and had a more dominant playoff run. It took them three games fewer to get out of their conference, even as they faced better teams.
Oklahoma City defeated the past three teams to make it to the finals out of the Western Conference. Kevin Durant is making a case to be considered the best player in the NBA, and the Thunder have their own Big 3 with Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
OKC is very good, but the Heat are still the class of the NBA. They should beat the Thunder to win the NBA Finals.
The Thunder may have the better supporting cast, but the Heat have the better stars. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two of the best young players in the league, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are still the best one-two punch around.
Durant has won three straight scoring titles, but he's not as good as James. There's a reason he's won three out of the last four MVP's. James receives perhaps more criticism from the media than any athlete in all of sports, and he's still voted as the NBA's top player almost every year.
James has certainly had his problems performing in the postseason, but most of his playoff struggles have been overblown. He averages more points and rebounds in the playoffs than during the regular season, and has won games with little talent around him.
Wade hasn't played his best this postseason, but he's still one of the best in the game. Many have said the guard has lost a step, but he's averaging 22.9 points in 18 playoff games.
Durant may have surpassed Wade in the hierarchy, but Westbrook isn't as good as him. Wade is averaging more points in the postseason and shoots a higher percentage from the field. Westbrook is a point guard, but he didn't even average one more assist per game in the regular season.
Wade is also better at the end of games. The Heat star is one of the most clutch players in the NBA, while Westbrook has been known to be erratic and take too many shots in the fourth quarter.
Miami had some trouble in the last two rounds, but they weren't completely healthy during that stretch. Chris Bosh missed nine games, and only played 14 minutes in his first game back. The Heat clearly missed the big man's presence, going 5-5 in those games.
When the Heat finally featured Bosh in Game 7 against the Celtics, he went 8-10 from the field and was instrumental in helping Miami beat Boston.
Many people who watched the Heat in the postseason feel that they aren't good enough to win the title. With Bosh in the lineup, Miami is a completely different team.
The Heat may not be able to win this series without a healthy Bosh, but Miami is more than capable of beating Oklahoma City at full strength.
This promises to be a very competitive series. The NBA Finals will feature some of the best stars in the league, and there's a good chance it will go seven games.
The Thunder will be in contention to win a championship for years to come, but the Big 3 are ready to win their first title with the Miami Heat.