A quick look at the Thunder vs. the Heat

With the finals starting, I figured it would be fun to give a quick break down of the Thunder vs. the Heat. I don’t have anywhere near Arturo’s skill for this and I know he’ll be providing a more in depth post explaining his position soon. To give a quick summary of Arturo’s breakdown

Now that the gamble in the Conference Finals failed, let’s have this one be straight up.

When I first look at all the playoff teams I like to look at a series of factors that I’ve found that all NBA champions (at least since the merger) have in common to identify the those teams that are truly in it and those that are fatally flawed. Both these teams, weirdly enough, came up flawed when compared against past champions. OKC is too young. They lack the veteran star which every Champion has. They are exactly a year short. OKC in 2013 will have those vets in Durant and Harden. Miami failed the big man test. They lacked that dominant big that controls the paint that is a hallmark of every Champion team.

So a choice between Miami and OKC is a choice between too young and too small right? Not so fast. By necessity, Miami discovered that the dominant big man they needed was already on the roster. LeBron James has stepped up in dramatic fashion to fulfill that role for Miami. Lebron was an unstoppable force of nature in the the last two series. Combine that with the fact that Miami shows up as a better team on a neutral floor no matter how I slice it and I have to think that history will reward the vets and disappoint the first timers once again. Given the 2-3-2 format the pick is then Road Team in 5.

Miami in 5

All I’m here to do today is give a brief rundown of the numbers. I decided I’d go position by position and give a quick recap of the top minute getters at each position.

Point Guard – Chalmers vs. Westbrook

Result – Tie

Stat Mario Chalmers Russell Westbrook
Season PoP/G +0.5 +0.3
Season Wins Produced 4.8 5.4
Playoff PoP/G  +1.1 +0.4
Playoff Wins Produced  1.9 1.4

While Westbrook is often though of as a star, his overall contribution put him right in the average range. In the first two rounds of the playoffs he played very well. He’s come back down to earth. After a few seasons of up and down performance, Chalmers finally has stabilized into a productive point guard.This one is pretty much a tie with a slight edge to the Heat.

Shooting Guard – Wade vs. Harden

Result – Important

STAT Dwyane Wade James Harden
Season PoP/G +2.9 +3.0
PLAYOFF POP/G +1.8 +2.9

Alright, in the regular season these two were about as a good on a per game basis. Of course, Harden played more minutes due to injury. In the playoffs Harden has been the better player. There’s a few caveats. Will Wade play to his potential? Will the Thunder make sure to actually give Harden enough minutes? They currently seem to think Derek Fisher is worth almost as many minutes. This is one of the most key match ups in the series.

Small Forward – James vs. Durant

Result – Win for Heat

STAT LeBron James Kevin Durant
Season PoP/G +5.6 +2.7
PLAYOFF POP/G +4.6 +3.9

Not often do you have a top five player in the league and lose out on a matchup. That happens here though. Durant has been amazing in the playoffs, it’s just that LeBron has been more amazing. Most teams just get gutted by LeBron, the Thunder won’t. That said, until the dust settles, LeBron is still the king.

Power Forward – Haslem vs. Ibaka

Result – Win for the Thunder

STAT Udonis Haslem Serge Ibaka
Season PoP/G +0.3 +2.7
PLAYOFF POP/G +0.3 +2.0

Easy win for the Thunder and another fascinating case. Ibaka has been a top three Thunder player in both the regular season and the playoffs. He hasn’t cracked 30 minutes per game in either. This is a key advantage for the Thunder, we’ll have to see if they take advantage.

“Center” – Bosh vs. Perkins

STAT Chris Bosh Kendrick Perkins
Season PoP/G -0.7 -1.1
PLAYOFF POP/G +1.9 -2.2

Result – Winner Heat

Despite Bosh’s worst season he was still a better player than Perkins. Bosh has actually put up some good numbers in the playoffs. That’s in spite of missing time due to injury. Perkins on the other hand has gotten worse. The Heat are a team without a top big. They luck out in that the Thunder have a much worse one and also insist on playing him!

Summing up

Looking at the lineups this series seems very close. A good or bad series by a key player can certainly be the difference. It’s exciting to see that this may be a close series and that is what many are hoping for. Five of the eight analysts in the True Hoop Smackdown are predicting a seven game series! Here’s hoping it doesn’t disappoint.



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