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NBA / Jun 12, 2012 / 3:30 pm

Dime’s 2012 NBA Finals Predictions

2012 NBA Finals

2012 NBA Finals (design. Ryan Hurst)

With the NBA Finals kicking off tonight, everyone has an opinion on what’s going to happen. It’s been a while since there was no definitive favorite in the Finals. This year figures to be one of the best series in recent memory. Miami has the best player. OKC has the home-court advantage. We think it’s fair to say that the Heat have the most pressure on them, and how they respond to that could go a long way in determining this series.

Miami fans say the LeBron James we say at the end of the Eastern Conference Finals, the guy who moved without mercy like one of The Others from Game of Thrones, will show up again in the Finals. OKC fans say it won’t matter because they have the deeper team, the crowd and the star players who always come through when it counts.

We scooped up reactions from most of the Dime staff, as well as our contributors, on what we expect to happen this year…

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Sean Sweeney
@SEANesweeney
Miami in 7
This is hard. I really believe the Thunder are the better team, but still… I have a hard time envisioning this Big Three in South Beach losing two consecutive years in the Finals. For LeBron, this pretty much is do-or-die time. Unless he wants to be the second coming of Jerry West, he can’t afford to go down for a third-straight time on the NBA’s biggest stage. For that alone, coupled with the fact that OKC has become slightly overrated in the past two weeks, is why I’m taking the Heat. It’s just a gut feeling.
MVP:
LeBron. Or Eddy Curry.
X-Factor:
Mario Chalmers. Miami’s whipping boy told me at All-Star Weekend that he’s always been a clutch shooter. Evidence backs it up. Now ‘Rio better pack his jumper for this one. Mike Miller is moving like a skeleton nowadays. Shane Battier can give you one solid 20-minute stretch every few weeks. And Norris Cole started his offseason after he dropped 20 on Boston in the opening week of the season. Chalmers will need to come up big for the Heat to win.
Surprise of the series:
Outside of LeBron actually coming through? How about this: Miami will two games in Oklahoma City. At this point, I don’t think a crowd is going to affect two evenly-matched teams like this. Okay, so the Thunder haven’t lost at home in the playoffs, but the Heat were the most dominant team in the league this year when they could put LeBron/Wade/Bosh together on the floor. With everything on the line, I’m expecting all three of those guys to average at least 35 minutes a night.

Andrew Greif
@AndrewGreif
Miami in 6
The Heat have an edge to them this postseason, unlike their first season together, that is
bolstered by Erik Spoelstra‘s improved coaching. They’re smaller than OKC but will win two games on the road because of the leadership of LeBron James and Miami’s pick and roll.
MVP:
LeBron James. The Heat star will play five positions at times in the series, picking matchup mismatches as he sees fit.
X-Factor:
Shane Battier. His defense on James Harden won’t stop the swingman in every game, but he can be a roadblock that will blunt the edge of OKC’s offense.
Surprise of the series will be:
Kendrick Perkins. He doesn’t have a true player to guard consistently in this series, which will force him to get out of his comfort zone and guard more in the perimeter. He’ll use those mismatches to his advantage, though, on offense.

Dylan Murphy
@DylanTMurphy
Miami in 6 games
Miami’s Big Three shifted from a complicated nuisance to an obvious advantage in Game 7, especially with Chris Bosh stretching the defense and forcing the shot-altering Kevin Garnett to step out to the perimeter. The same tactic can be used with equal success against Serge Ibaka if Miami stays small. I’m not picking against the Thunder because they’re young, or inexperienced, or any of those tired adjectives. It’s only because a detached, emotionless LeBron James is still the most unstoppable NBA force.
MVP:
LeBron James
X-Factor:
Mario Chalmers
Surprise of the series will be:
Kendrick Perkins playing under 10 minutes per game, since there’s really no one for him to guard.

Kristofer Habbas
@NBADraftInsider
OKC in 7
The Oklahoma City Thunder on a roll playing efficient, team basketball. Each team presents stars and superstars, but the Thunder have great balance, which will be the difference in the series when they hoist the Championship Trophy at home after seven games.
MVP:
This is an easy one; Kevin Durant will get his regular season redemption as he wins the NBA Finals MVP.
X-Factor:
The series may very well come down to whether Serge I-Blocka can balance shot-blocking and perimeter defense against Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem. Also, can he keep hitting that mid-range jumpshot to keep the defenses honest?
Surprise:
These teams are going to lock up into a defensive battle. Each team has great rotations, great shot-blocking, and will clog the paint in some low scoring wars.

Jaimie Canterbury
@SubZEROxPaste
Miami in 6
After Boston pushed Miami to the brink of elimination, they responded with resilience. I think they ride that same momentum in the Finals. The Boston series seemed to remind them what the agony of defeat really felt like so they are willing to do whatever it takes not to experience that a second time. They’ll be able to steal one of the first two, jump out to a 3-2 lead with a close Game 5 win, and then close out the Thunder in Game 6.
MVP:
The Finals MVP will be LeBron James. After having such a horrific Finals appearance last year, LeBron knows that for his team to have their best chance at a victory, he’s going to have to be the MVP of the series. He’ll have to anchor Miami’s defense, and still be dominant scoring the basketball at the same time.
X-Factor:
The X-Factor for Miami is Chris Bosh. He was the x-factor in the Boston series and he will be again in the Finals. He makes life so much easier on LeBron and Wade with his ability to knock down the mid-range jumper. If Ibaka is camping out in the paint all day, Wade and LeBron will turn into jump shooters, which is exactly what the Thunder want. But if Bosh is knocking down his jumpers, Ibaka will have to stay out there with him, leaving the paint open for Wade and LeBron to attack relentlessly.
Surprise of the series will be:
LeBron will close out a crucial Game 5, giving Miami a 3-2 lead, proving to the world, and finally to Skip Bayless, that he is capable of closing out close games.

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