Miami Heat v Oklahoma City Thunder

Khalid Salaam, Senior Writer
Thunder in 7.
Why? Truth is I’m eager for the narrative to change in regards to the Heat, and the best way for that to happen is them winning the NBA Finals. Problem is, they have such a disadvantage size-wise. OKC reserve forward Nick Collison would start for the Heat, it’s that much of a problem. Plus the quickness advantage the Heat have over most teams is neutralized against the Thunder. Not to mention OKC’s bench is far superior. Only way Heat can win is if LeBron, Wade and Bosh combine for 75-80 points per game. It’s doable, but is it realistic?

DeMarco Williams, Senior Writer
Heat in 7.
A wise man once said that you don’t change horses in the middle of a race. Since we’re not talking about I’ll Have Another, I might as well stay with the same prediction I’ve held since Christmas Day—Heat over the Thunder in seven hard-fought games. Don’t get me wrong. I love the perfect storm that is the throaty, t-shirt-draped OKC crowd and the three-headed thoroughbred of Durant, Westbrook and Harden. Just like what’s in MIA’s stable a lil’ more this year. LeBron is focused. Bosh is inching back. DWade is 20-6-6 a night. Heat get their first title since ’06. King James gets his first since high school.

Eldon Khorshidi, Editorial Intern
Pick: Heat in 7.
Imagine any of us could actually forecast this? Psh. This prediction is entirely visceral, but so are most of my predictions when it comes to the NBA. As much as I would love to see a dude only three years older than me (Durant) accomplish something I never will, LeBron’s already lost twice in the Finals, and I just don’t see it happening a third straight time. Not alongside Wade and Bosh, not when Battier hits four threes in Game 7, and not when Ibaka can’t hedge too much into the paint because he has to respect Haslem’s corner jumpshot. The Big Three will average a combined 65 points, and a new era will officially begin. But don’t fret guys, we’ll see OKC again next year (and the year after that, and the year after that, and the…).

Peter Walsh, Editorial Intern
Heat in 6.
Because I can’t take another season of “Is this the year?” rhetoric.

Yaron Weitzman, Editorial Intern
Pick: Thunder in 7.
I’m worried about Miami’s lack of depth. It took the Heat seven games to defeat an inferior Celtics team, and the only reason it did was because of LeBron’s super-human performance. Obviously Chris Bosh’s return makes a huge difference in this department, but because of James Harden and the rest of the Thunder bench, I think it’s going to be even harder this series for Erik Spoelstra to find situations where he can give his star a rest—something LeBron may need if he’s forced to guard Kevin Durant for extended periods of time. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if LeBron continues to play with the same aggressiveness and efficiency that the Celtics saw for seven straight games. Combine that possibility with the likelihood, or hope, that Dwyane Wade can get his talent back from the Monstars, and you get a potential seven-game series that could go either way. (Now that’s how to make a prediction. Cover all your bases, so that no matter what happens, you’re right. I feel like I’m now ready to join ESPN’s pre-game show.)

Maurice Bobb, Contributor
Pick: Heat in 7.
Why? This year’s NBA Finals between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, the marquee matchup that everyone wanted to see, comes down to this: Destiny vs Expectation. There are so many parallels, individual matchups and similarities that come into play with these two squads, but the main point centers around two careers at a crossroads. Kevin Durant is poised to become the NBA’s next BIG superstar, while LeBron James is already there. Many people wanted to pass the torch to Durantula this season after racking up his third scoring title, but King James put the kibosh on that with his stellar post-season play, punctuated by his legendary Game 6 performance in the Eastern Conference Finals. OKC got over many humps to get to this point, but like the great Queens lyricist Nas once said, It Was Written… for the Heat. This year, LeBron will finally earn his crown as King of the L and gets his first ring.

Sam Rubenstein, Contributor
Thunder in 5.
Miami just barely got by an old, worn-down, injured team, playing on heart and pride and Rondo. They blew a 2-0 lead in the series, and then the world treated their survival like a huge accomplishment, even though they already beat that same team and reached this same round of the Playoffs last year. Meanwhile, the Thunder were down 0-2 to a team on a 20-game winning streak. They grew up overnight, got smarter and tougher, and they have superstars oozing confidence and role players who know their roles. This is a quick and dominant series for OKC. LeBron plays a little better than Durant, Westbrook destroys Wade, the Beard over Bosh, and then OKC has so much more depth it’s not even worth discussing. LeBron finishes reading Mockingjay before June 20.

Ben Collins, Contributor
Pick: Thunder in 5.
Why? Oklahoma City is better. It’ll be cute watching the Heat try to figure out who gets the ball at the end of games while Kevin Durant sharpens his knife. I know this: There hasn’t been a more overrated defense in my lifetime than this Miami Heat defense. I’ll gladly eat it if that vaunted behemoth shows up for this series like it’s been showing up in people’s imaginations for about six months now. I wouldn’t bet on it. The Thunder are smart and spry and functional. They run like a tap in a fancy hotel.

Cub Buenning, Contributor
Pick: Thunder in 6.
Why? The Thunder come into the Finals in impressive fashion, dispatching the Mavs, Lakers and Spurs. But what might be the most daunting for any opponent is how the young outfit has performed in the forth quarter of games. In addition to individual games, the Thunder proved in the conference finals that they could come back in a series, ripping off four in a row against a team that won 20 straight. Throw in a road warrior mentality (4-3 in postseason) and the best home-court advantage in the League, and the Thunder have to get the nod. The Thunder have also been especially strong against teams with a weak interior presence (like Miami). The frontcourt of Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collision should find plenty of space and their ability to contribute on the offensive end should be the difference in this star-studded series. I just can’t see the Thunder losing at Chesapeake Energy Arena and will likely get one of the three in Miami to put them in a position to close things out in Game 6 back in OKC.

Schneezy, Advertising Director
Thunder in 6.
Why? No doubt in my mind that Miami has two of the three best players in the series but the depth of OKC, their youth and speed, and utter destruction of the Spurs leads me to believe they will not be beat. Serge Ibaka will be a HUGE difference maker.