We're on the cusp of seeing the 2nd regular season preview of what we hope will be an NBA Finals matchup come June, as the Miami Heat come to OKC tomorrow night in the last Thunder game before All-Star weekend. Royce Young at Daily Thunder invited me to join in his gang's discussion to talk about how we think things might play out between the two teams.
I've excerpted a few answers here, but be sure to read the entire thing at DT.
1. True or false: The MVP is on the line Thursday for KD.
Royce Young, Daily Thunder: False. Ish. False-ish. Here’s why: While there are still some 30 games to be played which means a whole lot could happen, if LeBron beats Durant again it’s going to plant that seed in a lot of minds that he’s simply a superior player. That’s not true at all because if you watched the Finals, you know that KD was absolutely brilliant and OKC’s losing really had very, very little to do with him. But narrative is the name of the game in sports, and when voters review their options come voting time, they’re going to have the fact that LeBron would’ve topped KD both times this season. Fair or not, that’s the way the MVP game often works.
2. What’s the best approach to matching up with the Heat?
a) Smallball b) Two bigs c) Lots of Nick Collison d) New idea
Michael Kimball, Daily Thunder: A and C. To be clear, this answer applies to almost every team in the league. The Thunder are good enough with their smallball units to not even really care who is on the floor for the other team. OKC has been obliterating people with KD at the four and only one other big man at his side. It’s even more important for the Thunder to go small against the position-less Heat, but the data has shown for quite a while that small is better for the Thunder in almost any situation. Plus, "lots of Nick Collison" is the answer to pretty much anything in Thunderville.
3. Are the Thunder currently equipped to beat the Heat in a seven-game series?
Sherman: I thought the Thunder were actually well equipped to beat the Heat in last year’s Finals. The details of that series will be eventually lost within the mythology of LeBron, but the truth was that the Thunder played mediocre ball for much of that series and yet were within one or two possessions of winning 3 out of their 4 losses. Durant and Westbrook weren’t bad per se, but they weren’t really that good either (James Harden though, he was pretty bad).