Tuesday, June 12, 2012
NBA Finals Preview: Like Night and Day
The Oklahoma City Thunders may not be the NBA's number one choice to represent the Western conference (that would be the Lakers) but Scottie Brooks' boys should make most basketball fans excited. After all, this is the rare "play the right way" team that is really fun to watch. They're not the Anti-Heat but they're pretty close. Just about all of their main players are home-grown talent, still playing for the squad that drafted them (even if they were known by a different name at the time) the exception being veterans Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins, who may own the second ugliest jump shot in the league next to Jared Jeffries. But the trio of Durant, Westbrook and Harden (along with possibly the best defensive player in the league, all apologies to Tyson Chandler) carry the team, and this "our guys" mentality is only enhanced by the fact that Oklahoma City has literally nothing else to do right now. There are no other pro teams who play there, and Sooners football and basketball is a ways away. It's all they got, and the crowds at Chesapeake energy center (that's what it's called) reflect this type of giddy atmosphere. The Heat on the other hand, may have the worst fans in sports. While Lakers fans are often derided as being more about being seen than actually rooting for the Lakers, Heat fans take this kind of front running, attention seeking to another level. When the Heat are bad, the sight of thousands of empty, yellow seats is common place, and when they're good, you still see lots of empty seats next to the plastic surgeons and plastic surgery enthusiasts. Notorious front runners, you can even see their fickle nature from quarter to quarter. If the Heat are down by a few points, instead of rallying their team to victory like a good fan base would, they sit on their hands or just leave. The Thunder fans stand for the entire second half most games. Can you imagine Heat fans pushing their team to a win when they're down by 15 like Thunder fans did in game 6 vs the Spurs? Never.
So the fans are polar opposites, as is how the teams were assembled, and so are their team leaders. Durant is a quiet, by all accounts humble dude who only has tattoos where nobody can see them and announced his re signing with the team that drafted him via Twitter. LeBron is LeBron. Temperaments aside, they have very different games as well. Bron preferring to either bulldoze his way to the rim (when he feels like it) or shoot midrange jumpers. Durant has almost unlimited range as well as occasional outbursts at the rim, but he couldn't physically overpower anyone. Who will become a first time champion this season? I really have no idea, but I'd put my money on the Thunder. They're deeper, playing at a more consistenly high level, and less beat up. It also seems like it's destined to be their time. They knocked off the Mavs, Lakers and Spurs and can now knock off the Heat, teams that accounted for 10 of the last 12 championships. It's Durant's turn.
Thunder in 7