The Oklahoma City Thunder are waiting to find out who they will play in the NBA Finals after eliminating the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals by winning the final four games of that series.
The Western Conference has been playing at a much higher level of basketball in the playoffs than the Eastern Conference. In the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs and Thunder matched up as the two best teams in the NBA.
In a perfect world, that would have been the NBA Finals. The feeling for a lot of people was that it was and that now the Thunder will easily win the NBA Finals no matter who they play.
They will be the favorites and have earned that right. They have been playing significantly better than either the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics.
But there is one player who could stop the Thunder from winning the NBA title: LeBron James.
LeBron had one of the greatest performances in NBA history last night as the Heat beat the Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals to force a Game 7.
LeBron had 45 points, 15 rebounds, and five assists and went 19-for-26 from the field in 45 minutes. He single-handedly made sure the Heat were not going to be eliminated in Boston.
This year with this Heat team we are seeing that the only way they will win the title is if LeBron plays at this level – which should be what every fan ever wanted from LeBron.
LeBron won his third MVP this season averaging 27.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while shooting .531 percent from the field.
LeBron is averaging 30.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game in the playoffs and shooting .512 percent from the field.
LeBron has been even better as the playoffs have gone on. He averaged 30.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game against the Pacers. Against Boston, LeBron is now averaging 34.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists and shooting .542 percent from the floor.
But while LeBron is putting up insane numbers and playing the best basketball of his career, the fact still remains that the Thunder are the better team.
The better team does not always win the championship though. Having the best player in the NBA Finals can often be more important.
LeBron has the potential to be that guy against the Thunder. It won’t be nearly as easy because Kevin Durant will be matched up with him and even the numbers he is putting up now wouldn’t be that much better than Durant’s.
In a sense, the matchup of LeBron and Durant will be the biggest. But it’s not everything. It’s more about if LeBron can do everything for the Heat like he has been.
That would take LeBron to a level worthy of winning a championship. We’re finding out that it’s not just about being the best player in the NBA to win a championship. You have to be the best player you can be to win one, too.
If you hit your potential and are the best player, you’re not losing. That was the ultimate difference in last year’s finals between LeBron and Dirk Nowitzki.
This year’s Finals may very well come down to the same thing. If we see LeBron take a step back down like he did last year, then the Heat certainly aren’t beating the Thunder. If Durant is contained by LeBron and outplayed by him, the Thunder could lose.
It’s a little unfair to break down this potential series to LeBron vs. Durant and that won’t be all it is about. It’ll just be the most important thing.
The key for the Thunder will be to make the series into a LeBron vs. Durant battle. That takes LeBron out of the mode of doing everything for the Heat if he is solely concerned with his matchup with Durant. It will then allow the rest of the Thunder players to play better than the Heat’s, and they will.
That’s why the Thunder should win this series. LeBron will have to focus all of his energy into defending the best offensive player in the world and then try and become the better offensive player on the other end. No one has had so much pressure and responsibility to come through to win a title.
But that’s LeBron’s world. He has all of the talent and thankfully he has to use it all to ever become a champion.
Whether you hate LeBron or love him, NBA fans are in a win-win situation no matter how it all plays out.