As the Western Conference champions Oklahoma City Thunder wait for a Finals opponent, Head Coach Scott Brooks must surely be studying the recent history between both teams. All three teams have faced off this regular season, and all games implicated some playoff atmosphere. Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals is Saturday, and Game 1 of the Finals is on Tuesday. So until we get to these lets have a look at both possible match ups for OKC.
Scenario 1- Thunder vs Celtics: The season series between these two ended with OKC leading 2-0. Kevin Durant averaged 28 points in both games, and Russell Westbrook averaged 28.5. In both games the Thunder pulled off early surges in the early minutes of both games winning the first match up 97-88, and the second 119-104. One key factor in both games was the stifling defense by the Thunder perimeter players who held the role players for Boston ineffective. Rajon Rondo only played in one match up but in that one game Russell Westbrook did a good job of containing him. If the Celtics take the East and hope to win a series against the surging OKC the key will be Rajon Rondo. He will need to be better than Westbrook at all phases of the game. Pierce, Garnett, and Allen will get theirs but it is the play of their point guard that will be do or die for them if they make it to the Finals. The match up between Westbrook and Rondo will be the crucial factor in this potential Finals series.
Scenario 2- Thunder vs Heat: This Finals implicating regular season series between these two ended with a 50-50 split. They faced twice, and each team won a game on their own home court. The first match up went to OKC at home as they dominated with a score of 103-87. The perimeter defense was key as they held NBA MVP Lebron James to only 17 points, and Dwyane Wade to 22. Kevin Durant was spectacular with a stat line of 28 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds. In the second match up Miami won a tough one with a score of 98-93, Lebron James was MVP like putting up 34 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds. The key factors in each game was the play of star guards Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook. They both had off shooting nights in each game, and it was the heavy lifting of James and Durant that won each game. For either team to win this potential series those two players in Wade and Westbrook will have to play at a high, but also efficient level.
My Take: Whether you want Miami or Boston to take the east, either team will be facing a monster from the west. In my opinion Miami is better equipped to take on OKC due to their great perimeter defense and the return of Chris Bosh. His post presence makes it harder for any team to double team the dynamic duo of James and Wade. Boston might find it hard to play OKC because their perimeter players will have a harder time guarding Westbrook, Durant, and Harden. The Thunder are a dangerous team with nothing but momentum in their corner, and it will be exciting to see who will try to match their intensity.