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Previewing The NBA Finals Between Oklahoma City And Miami

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

The matchup NBA fans have been desperately hoping to see in the NBA Finals has at long last become a reality; Oklahoma City and Miami, Big Three West vs. Big Three East, Loud City vs. South Beach.

All the ingredients are there for a classic matchup between the two teams. Oklahoma City comes in riding a wave of momentum, after taking four straight from the San Antonio Spurs to claim the Western Conference title. Miami finished a grueling seven-game series with Boston on Saturday night in Miami.

Game one of the Finals will be Tuesday night in Oklahoma City, and will begin at 8 p.m. CST.

The Thunder and Heat were the toast of the NBA for much of the season, before the Spurs surged in the second half of the season to take control of the Western Conference, and the Heat stumbled down the stretch of the season to fade behind the Chicago Bulls.

This is the matchup most NBA fans wanted to see, particularly after the teams staged a classic matchup in Miami on April 4, a game the Heat won 98-93. It was an intense game, with several hard fouls both ways creating somewhat of a playoff atmosphere for the entire game.

The Thunder took the other matchup between the two teams this season, a 103-87 blowout in Oklahoma City on March 25. The Thunder took a close game in the second quarter, and established a double-digit lead by halftime, a lead they wouldn't relinquish the rest of the game.

Fundamentally, the teams are very similar, with a group of three core players surrounded by a variety of role players. Both teams like to get out and run, and neither runs a great halfcourt offense.

Here's a complete breakdown of the two teams, complete with key matchups.

Scoring:

Thunder- 103.1

Heat- 98.5

Rebounds:

Thunder- 43.7

Heat- 41.6

Assists:

Thunder- 18.5

Heat- 20.0

Field Goal Percentage:

Thunder- 47.1

Heat- 46.9

Free Throw Percentage:

Thunder- 80.6

Heat- 77.5

Three-Point Percentage:

Thunder- 35.8

Heat- 35.9

Key Matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Lebron James

What else? These two are the biggest stars in the game, and their teams' title chances depend on how well they play. As we saw in the two matchups earlier this year, they'll be guarding each other at times, so this is definitely the big matchup. 

Key Statistic: Turnovers

OKC is averaging just 11.5 turnovers per game in the postseason, second lowest of the 16 teams. Miami is averaging 13.1, but both teams are forcing about 15 turnovers per game. Since both teams like to get out in transition, keeping turnovers to a minimum will be important for both teams.

Difference makers: The Benches

Miami's starters are scoring 88 percent of the Heat's points in the postseason, and that includes Udonis Haslem's 5.5 points per game. On the other side, the Thunder starters only score 69% of the team's points. Obviously, James Harden coming off the bench helps that statistic quite a bit, but either way, the Thunder bench is superior to that of the Heat. OKC must continue that trend, but they must do it outside of Harden. If the Thunder bench consistently outscores the Miami bench, that will go a long way toward OKC winning the title.

Advantages:

Point Guard: Russell Westbrook vs. Mario Chalmers      Edge: OKC

Shooting Guard: Thabo Sefalosha vs. Dwyane Wade    Edge: Miami

Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. Lebron James              Edge: Miami

Power Forward: Serge Ibaka vs. Chris Bosh                  Edge: OKC

Center: Kendrick Perkins vs. Udonis Haslem                  Edge: OKC

Bench Play                                                                      Edge: OKC

Coaching: Scott Brooks vs. Erik Spoelstra                      Edge: OKC

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