Saturday, May 21, 2011

NBA Finals looking good

We're down to four teams, which means there are four NBA Finals possibilities.  The NBA is in good shape, because there's a 75% chance of having an intriguing Finals matchup.  What are they?

Chicago vs. Oklahoma City
This series would probably be the most fun.  Both of these teams are new and exciting.  In a year that included "The Decision" and the "Melo Drama," it was refreshing to see two new teams that were built so fundamentally.  They didn't spend the most money to get where they are now.  In fact, the Bulls and Thunder have the lowest payrolls of any playoff teams, and actually have two of the lowest payrolls in the league.  The only teams with lower payrolls were the T-Wolves, the Clippers, and the Kings (who are all rebuilding).  Without spending 100 million dollars, on the likes of LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Stoudemire, Carmelo or Joe Johnson, they were able to find the right type of players to surround their superstars with.  And they did a good job, because they're the two deepest teams left in the playoffs (probably even the two deepest teams in the league).  Both are loaded with talent and are legitimately 10 deep.  It's pretty amazing that both franchises have built such talented teams without breaking the bank.  They also happen to be built similarly:

Superstars- Durant and Rose
Secondary Superstars- Westbrook and Boozer
Third scoring option- Harden and Deng
Defender who can score- Ibaka and Noah
Wing defender- Sefolosha and Bogans/Brewer
Interior defender- Perkins and Thomas
3-Pt Shooter- Cook and Korver
All-around player- Collison and Gibson
Backup point guard- Maynor and Watson
Backup center- Mohammed and Asik

And those are just the similarities of the rosters.  It gets better when you think about the actual matchups: Rose vs. Westbrook, Durant vs. Deng, Ibaka vs. Boozer, and Noah vs. Perkins.  This series wouldn't be about bad blood or a rivalry.  It would just be two exciting, talent-rich teams battling for a championship. 

Miami vs. Dallas II: Dirk's Revenge
Five years ago, Dirk Nowitzki came the closest he's ever been to getting a championship.  Unfortunately for him, he was bested by Dwyane Wade and the Heat.  If the Mavs were to get back to the Finals, a rematch against Miami would be very enticing.  The main storyline would obviously be whether or not Dirk could avenge the Finals disaster of 5 years ago and finally get a ring.  The interesting sub-plot for the Mavs would be the, presumed, final chance for some deserving veterans (Kidd, Terry, Marion) to finally win a title.

Oklahoma City vs. Miami
This matchup would have the most contrast.  On one side, you have a team of built through free agency and spending money.  On the other side, you have a team built through draft picks and trades.  While LeBron had a television special to announce where he was playing, Durant quietly announced on Twitter that he had signed a contract extension.  These teams are practically night and day.  It's a clash of the most honorably built team in the league against the team that's despised for the way it was assembled.  One team has spent years finding quality players - that fit their system - to surround their stars with, while the other team spent tons of money on big free agent superstars and a rotating door of veterans to try and compliment them.  It's the right way to build a championship versus the wrong way.  It would be quite poetic for the team that's been organically built, over the last four years, to beat a team that has tried to buy its way to a championship.

As long as we don't end up with Dallas against Chicago, it should be a very entertaining Finals.  Not that Chicago-Dallas would be bad.  Just not as interesting as the other three possibilities.

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