Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Daily News' NBA Finals predictions

BOB COONEY

Daily News' NBA Finals predictions

The NBA Finals begin Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
The NBA Finals begin Tuesday night in Oklahoma City. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

BOB COONEY

I would love to say I feel confident in this pick, but that just wouldn’t be true.

Despite its youth Oklahoma City is a veteran group when it comes to playoff pressure. Not Finals pressure, but playoff pressure. I love the Thunder’s depth and the problems it can give Miami defensively.

With the way LeBron James is playing right now and the different looks Miami can put on Kevin Durant at the defensive end, I lean toward Miami.

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I picked these two at the beginning of the season, as many did, to be here. I picked Miami to win it back then, but have changed my mind.

Oklahoma City in 7

JOHN SMALLWOOD

Finally, the next wave has staked its claim in the NBA. Either the Oklahoma City Thunder or the Miami Heat is going to win the first of multiple championships over the next several season.

Individually, Miami’s Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are slightly more talented than OKC’s Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, but the Thunder is the only team that can legitimately match the Heat.

This series comes down to the other guys, and with forward Serge Ibaka, center Kendrick Perkins, defensive whiz Thabo Sefolosha and veteran point guard Derek Fisher, the Thunder have considerably better “other guys.”

You can’t like the Heat’s chances when it will come down to point guard Mario Chalmers defending Westbrook and Shane Battier containing Durant. Strange as it sounds since they have James and Wade, Miami can’t win a high-scoring series and this will be old-time high-scoring basketball.

Oklahoma City in 6.

DICK JERARDI

My memory is that I picked the Heat over the Thunder when the season began. I have gone back and forth the last few days. OKC had a much harder road, having to beat the three Western Conference finals regulars (Mavs, Lakers, Spurs) to get here. OKC’s offense is a force of nature. You just have to hope they miss. The Spurs had won 20 straight before the Thunder beat them four straight. That was very impressive. Their bench is way better than Miami’s and their bigs really guard the basket.

Kevin Durant is going to be great. So is LeBron James who went into some other realm against the Celtics. Russell Westbrook is the key to the series. The Heat could not guard Rajon Rondo and it is not going to be able to guard Westbrook. The problem is Westbrook sometimes guards himself by thinking it is about him and not about his team. If he can attack and think at the same time, I love the Thunder. If he gets wild and has too many live ball turnovers, I would like the Heat.

LeBron had that “I am not losing” look against the Celtics. And it certainly may be his time. I just think OKC has more good players, certainly more good players than anything the Heat saw in the East. Is it possible the Thunder is just too young? It is. But this is generally about talent. Please refer to Kentucky in New Orleans.

Each team has its Big Three. Both teams want to run. No two teams get end to end faster. This will be an awesome display of athleticism and very entertaining. These games will not be boring.

Oklahoma City in 7

MARCUS HAYES

The basketball world shuddered when the Thunder won Game 5. In San Antonio, something awesome and terrible was born: This generation’s Lakers.

Magic, Kareem and Worthy have become Westbrook, Durant and Harden: a singular talent at point guard, an unstoppable scorer, the perfect complement.

And, so, in Game 5 they discovered the joy of ball movement and the power of defensive rotation. Quickly, they will dispatch of the dysfunctional, poorly coached, offensively limited Heat and begin their dynasty.

Oklahoma City in 6.

About this blog
Bob Cooney has been at the Daily News for more than 20 years, working in the sports department for the past 15. This is his third season on the Sixers beat. He has covered just about everything, but mostly college basketball, where he was the La Salle beat writer for six seasons. E-mail Bob at cooneyb@phillynews.com and follow him on Twitter.

Bob Cooney
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