If the Thunder want to win a championship in the near future, they will have to go through the Miami Heat. There is no getting around it. The simple fact is that there are literally no teams in the east that have the capability of beating Miami in a seven game series. As for the western conference, the Spurs are always going to be there, but in my opinion the Thunder are just too athletic and talented for them at this point.
When Miami squares off with the Thunder, it seems that the Heat are unbeatable. It is actually very frustrating watching the Thunder play Miami because they just look “scared”. The main hurdle for OKC is not even basketball speaking. They just have to get it in there minds that they can beat the Heat. I think it is a little bit like this for every team in the league when they face Miami (with the exceptions of Boston or maybe Chicago). The Heat have a bit of an “aura” around them, with Lebron and Dwayne Wade running the show at times they do seem unbeatable. But when you look at it from a basketball standpoint, they are very beatable. Everybody looks at how great Lebron is playing this year and think that the Heat can do no wrong. Well as great as Lebron and Wade are, the Heat do not have as much firepower as people seem to believe. In fact, after the “Big 3” the Heat’s next best scorer is Ray Allen. Now I love Allen, but at this age he is not a fourth scorer. He is a spot up shooter that is there to make big shots in the big moments. Right there is a weakness for the Heat that most people don’t pay attention to. The other more obvious weakness is their lack of size. The Thunder however, are not designed to take advantage of that so the Heat sort of “get away” with that one against OKC.
For the Thunder it is simple. Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin must out-perform Chris Bosh and Ray Allen. I am not just talking point-wise, but throughout the basketball game (or series) Ibaka and Martin have to defend better, rebound better, and distribute better. I really believe that they are capable of easily out performing Bosh and Allen. Ibaka has developed a very good jump shot throughout his career and while it is not as consistent as Bosh’s jumper is, he can ‘make it rain’ at certain times. Defensively it is not even a contest between Ibaka and Bosh. Ibaka is one of the best rim protectors in the league, and his post defense has vastly improved. Kevin Martin gets the edge over Ray Allen in pretty much every category in my opinion. Martin can get to the hole, and shoot the three point shot better than Allen at this point. I am not here to try and say that Kevin Martin is better than the great Ray Allen overall. But at this point in their respective careers Martin is a better shooter than Allen. The only problem is Ibaka and Martin can not seem play well against Heat. Ibaka and Martin have both played just okay versus the Heat this year. Westbrook and Durant will both play very well against Miami and for the most part Westbrook and Wade cancel each other out, and KD and Lebron cancel each other out. It is going to come down to the role players, and if Ibaka and Martin play as well as I know they can, then the Thunder will win the NBA championship this June.