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edge staff writer


An ambivalent NBA Finals prediction

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A look ahead from someone who doesn't really care

I've long had a lukewarm relationship with the NBA. As a fan of sports in general and New England teams specifically, I check in with the Celtics from time to time throughout the season, but I rarely pay any real attention until the playoffs start and only then when the Celtics are in contention.

The 2012 Celtics took us on quite a ride, but they ultimately came up short, leaving us with a Miami Heat/Oklahoma City Thunder matchup in the finals. While this is admittedly the dream outcome for the NBA powers that be, most of my personal interest ticked away along with the final seconds of Celtics/Heat Game 7.

Still, it would be remiss of me not to engage my exceedingly inaccurate powers of prediction for this series, and so here's how I see it:

While the idea of the Heat winning the Larry O'Brien Trophy is distasteful to many fans the same fans who continue to resent LeBron's infamous 'Decision' the truth is that after watching the Heat come to life in the last two games of the Celtics series, they look extremely tough to beat. Dwyane Wade has been a touch inconsistent and Chris Bosh is still battling back from injury, but those guys at 75% are better than most of the league at full-strength.

Of course, LeBron James is the key. It looks as though he's finally accepted the fact that he's the one who needs to put the team on his shoulders and carry them to the Promised Land. If he's past the point of needing to defer to Wade or anyone else for that matter he could very well put up a series for the ages.

Obviously, the Thunder are going to have something to say about that. Oklahoma City boasts a pretty impressive triumvirate of talent in its own right. Kevin Durant is probably the most complete scorer in the NBA right now. Not the most complete player that's LeBron but nobody out there can put the ball in the basket like Durant can.

Sixth man James Harden has been a vital part of the Thunder attack. He needs to keep playing his 30 minutes and filling the stat sheet. Point guard Russell Westbrook is an incredibly dynamic player in his own right, but he seems to need the ball in his hands to be most effective. While OKC coach Scott Brooks seems to have found an uneasy equilibrium between Westbrook and Durant, the pressure of the Finals might change things. All it takes is a couple of wonky games and it's all over for the Thunder.

Bear in mind these are the observations of a casual fan, one who has neither the capability nor the desire to delve deeper into the game within the game, as it were. This is what it looks like from the periphery of NBA fandom. This series offers the possibility of some first-rate basketball, but try as I might, I just can't get that excited about it. Call me a homer. Tell me I'm not a real fan. I'll agree with you wholeheartedly. This is just one man's admittedly ill-informed opinion.

Heat in six.

(And so, taking into consideration my track record with sporting predictions, let me be the first to congratulate the 2012 NBA Champion Oklahoma City Thunder.)


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