The Time Has Come…
In a matter of hours, Game 1 of the 2012 NBA Finals begins. From there, if we’re all lucky, the most anticipated Finals in recent memory spawns into the greatest we’ve laid eyes on this generation. On the surface, the top billing stands on the shoulders of LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Their teams, however, have all fought different, but albeit violent battles to get to where they are now – on the brink of immortality. The Thunder have been billed as the team of the future for three years since Kobe Bryant dubbed them “next” in 2010. After convincingly knocking off the only three teams to win Western Conference Finals banners since 1999 (Spurs, Lakers and Mavs), Oklahoma City looks to cement their status as basketball’s next potential juggernaut. For Miami, it’s simple: win or endure the wrath of the entire world for the second consecutive summer.
Unable to hold their excitement any longer, Ron and Justin break down what they hope is a seven game instant classic. Brace yourselves.
Justin: Ron, I’m going to start off with a simple question. On a scale of bored in math class to walking in on a naked, recently divorced, single and ready to mingle Beyonce, how excited are you for this series? have to make up for it, or at least we hope. It’s rare as hell we get to see the two best players in the world go at it on this stage. I think the last time was probably Jordan and Barkley in the 1993 Finals.
Ronald: *wipes off drool* In the 2000s, the closest we got to this was Iverson against Shaqobe but yeah, I think the magnitude and rivaling storylines mirrors more of the Barkley-Jordan comparison. But what makes this one more interesting is that it isn’t clear who Jordan is. You might say it’s LeBron but you can make an argument that it’s Durant. Or maybe they’re both Barkley and they’re trying to enter the Jordan realm. I don’t know but that’s what makes this so intriguing. Two bonafied superstars - one at the start of his prime and the other not even close - going at it for seven games with both seeking their first titles? It doesn’t get much better than that. It almost screams of a little Hakeem-Ewing in 94. And nobody ever wants to be Ewing in any comparisons. Ever.
Justin: That’s a rule of thumb in the NBA if you ask me. Moving away from the two obvious faces of the series for a moment, they can’t win the entire thing on their own. They’re obviously going to need help. We know OKC’s blueprint. Russell Westbrook can be extremely potent when his jumper is falling and playing to the speed of the game. James Harden is a younger Manu Ginobli, which is pretty damn scary when you think about that. Serge Ibaka – aka Air Congo as my homie Ed says – is like an overprotective father when it comes to rim protection. Then there’s Kendrick Perkins and his mini-beef with LeBron from earlier this season. And as you said over the phone, Derek Fisher will have one turn-back-time game for the Thunder.
I say all that to say this. Can Miami combat with that?
Ronald: Dwyane Wade has to wake up, first and foremost. He was sleep for almost every first half of the Celtics series while he watched LeBron act a fool before doing a little something late to save face. He can’t do that anymore. He might have to guard Westbrook for long stretches already so he’s going to have to find a way to be effective on offense while also guarding at least one member of the Thunder’s three-headed monster. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it is no guarantee that he can get that done. Another element is Chris Bosh. The Heat are a completely different team with him on the floor. He’s the calm of the storm. He does his work, looks ugly and allows his teammates to get all the light with no ego issues. Now, that’s the perfect ugly guy to have in your crew. Bosh and Ibaka are going to end up hating each other by the end of the series and that’s a good thing. But the drop off after Miami’s big three is quite steep. The only one who might be able to keep his head above water in the deep end is Mario Chalmers, one of the newest members of the All-Irrational Confidence Team. He wants to do the Sam Cassell Cajones Dance but can he do it in the Finals? Can he earn the right to do the greatest symbol of masculinity this side of DX’s ‘Suck It’ sign? He’s going to have to. By the way, Cassell’s Cajones Dance needs a 30 for 30 documentary. But I digress.
Justin: Didn’t Pedro Cerrano from Major League do the cajones dance first? I’m pretty sure he did after hitting home runs. Anyway, Bosh definitely has to play big. If the world remembers, Bosh was actually the most consistent player for Miami throughout the playoffs last year. He’s going to have to do that and more if Miami hopes to be the first to four wins. His outside shooting is important – Haslem’s too – seeing as how they’ll draw both Ibaka and Perkins away from the basket, creating lanes for LeBron and D-Wade. While I’m on the subject of Bosh, too, if I’m Spoelstra, I’d continue to bring him off the bench just to act as an answer to when Scott Brooks brings Trina’s boy toy (Harden) off the bench. If Bosh starts, Miami has NO answer whatsoever off the bench.
Another x-factor for Miami is Shane Battier. Look, everyone pulling for Miami is going to have to say the Lord’s Prayer every time he’s matched up against Kevin Durant. If he can make KD work for those points – maybe pick up a charge or two in the process – you have to consider that a win. Mike Miller’s going to have to make open shots as well and pray his body holds up. Someone, anybody not named James, Bosh or Wade is going to not back down from the moment. I’m not sure who it’s going to be, but I can say with the confidence of a pre-scandal Tiger Woods it will NOT be Dexter Pittman.
Ronald: I thought they cut Pittman already? Damn. I guess that’s what I get for using World Star Hip Hop as a source. It’s like going to BET for quality black viewing. Meanwhile, I just got in a shot on BET during an NBA Finals preview. I consider that a win. (Thoughts shared here are those of my own and not of EDGE Magazine. See what I did there? *does the Cajones dance*). And thanks a lot Tins for killing my Cassell joke with the Major League reference. That’s why God made you a LeBron fan. Yep, I took it to Jesus.
Justin: I swear my intention wasn’t to kill the joke. Cerrano just doesn’t get his credit for coming up with the dance. It’s a timeless celebratory move, but Sam Cassell gets the juice though. All that said, did you really have to go and use religion? I’m walking on egg shells over here and you go and do that. You know what, I’m too nervous to go back and forth. Let’s just move to the next question. Erik Spoelstra or Scotty Brooks? Who do you trust more? And who’s going to make the first “what the hell was he thinking” call?
Ronald: I haven’t seen Major League (you can punch me later). But anyway, to answer the question, I trust Brooks more. In situations like this with two baby-faced coaches going at it, I always go with the guy with playing experience. It might be wrong to do so, but it makes it easier on me so I can focus on bigger decisions I have to make like whether or not I should convince you to stop following me on Twitter during the Finals. I’m serious. That’s an actual decision I have to make. But Spoelstra will make the first bonehead move of the series. It will more than likely involve Chris Bosh (actual answer), it will indirectly involve LeBron’s hairline and it will forever alter Eddy Curry’s baby weight. Oh. And it will lose the Heat a game during the series.
Justin: I’m actually considering cutting my Twitter activity down drastically during the Finals. I need all my attention invested on this, not worrying about someone starting a trending topic about Harden’s beard or LeBron’s double headband. That said, I’ve already accepted Spo will cost Miami at least one game. However, OKC isn’t exactly flawless. Let’s go back to Game 5 against the Spurs. There was a long – and I mean long – period of time when Kevin Durant did NOT touch the ball in the fourth quarter. Thankfully, Harden made the three which eventually won them the game, but the Thunder’s propensity to forget they’re playing with the best closer in the game and Durant’s ability to sometimes forget he’s the best closer in the game is scary. And, while it seems like a lifetime ago, OKC’s ability to not get K.D. involved late in Games 1 and 2 of the WCF was cause for very important concern. I’m not saying it happens this series, but I’m also not saying it won’t either.
Ronald: The Thunder have a way of giving us hope because they’re young while at the same time giving us Metta-World-Peace-in-short-purple-shorts-level pause because they’re young. It’s what makes them so unpredictable. I feel like I know what I’m going to get from the Heat. At least, I hope I do. But it’s completely up to the Thunder on whether or not they can surpass what the Heat will bring. And don’t think I haven’t noticed how LeBron-in-game-6 business-like you’ve been during this exchange. You’re not budging. Like Delonte on a Friday night in Akron.
Justin: I have to, man. I love everything about the Thunder. I love that Harden is (one of) the coldest bench assassin(s) since the dude at the end of Scarface. I love the fact that Russell Westbrook may actually be clinically insane. I love the fact that Kevin Durant is morphing into the most dominant scoring presence in years. I hate the fact Eric Maynor isn’t healthy to enjoy this moment. I love the fact I can refer to them as the University Of Oklahoma City Thunder. I’m as serious as Sallie Mae payments. That said, they cannot win this series. They just can’t. I can’t go through another summer of depression. I want to be happy again in July for a change.
Ronald: Thunder in 7, Durant is Finals MVP. I’m sorry, man, but your summer will once again suck. No worries though, I got a mail-order Kardashian look-alike I’m sending to your crib to ease the pain. I could only afford the Khloe one though. And her teeth are missing.
Justin: Keep your Kardashian. I’ve stuck to this narrative all year. Miami in 7, LeBron wins Finals MVP and suddenly the sun shines a little bit brighter, the economy takes a turn for the better and he leads us to gold in August. And if I can make one sub-prediction, if you will, there will be one game where Durant and LeBron go completely apesh*t and we’re all going to have the kid in a candy store look.
Ronald: As long as it’s Snickers and not Three Musketeers. I sort of hate the latter.