David Thorpe of ESPN has been breaking down what it will take to beat the Miami Heat.
Most recently, Thorpe says star power will be an important factor in unseating the Heat. Thorpe says that the Oklahoma City Thunder possess this more than any other team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder feature two players who best rival Miami’s pair of James and Dwyane Wade for the best perimeter duo in the league. Kevin Durant likely is the game’s second-best player, but in a series against the Heat it is possible that he could emerge as the top dog. Durant now often swings to the power spot, like James does, and Durant’s scoring talents alone could be the difference in a title matchup. Just because the Thunder fell short two seasons ago does not mean they will again in the future.
Russell Westbrook’s relentless attacking style creates openings for Durant when defenders help, which could prove to be very successful in a Miami series. Westbrook also can pulverize Miami’s guards on the glass and in the half-court game while pushing the ball hard up the court after every Miami miss. James simply cannot defend both Durant and Westbrook, and each is better than anyone else Miami has to defend them. However, would Miami offer OKC defensive looks similar to what the Spurs presented to the Heat? Meaning, don’t guard anyone (other than Durant), and hope Westbrook just keeps shooting at the expense of anyone else finding their rhythm? It’s ironic, and it’s also possible.
You’ve got to agree with Thorpe’s take here. Durant is one of the few players in the NBA with a chance to be better than LeBron for an entire series. It’s a long shot but more and more Durant is starting to have games where he outplays the King.
Westbrook is and probably will always be the X-factor for the Thunder, especially in this matchup. No one on Miami can stay in front of him and it will only be Westbrook beating himself if he isn’t successful.
That’s the thing the Thunder always have going for them. The ball is in their hands. No one can stop Durant and Westbrook and it’s just up to them developing and maturing to where they can consistently play at the highest level. When they do that, they can’t be beat. Even if they’re playing the Heat.