The Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder are both up 3-2 in their respective conference finals and can close out the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors this weekend.
If they do, we’re going to have a mighty entertaining NBA Finals on our hands. The Cavs are 11-2 in the playoffs, while the Thunder are 11-5, including 7-4 against the Spurs and Warriors.
We’d also have a head-to-head battle of former league MVPs still in their prime.
“Clearly it’s Kevin Durant versus LeBron James,” NBA.com’s and NBA-TV’s Lang Whitaker said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “It’s a rematch from the first time the Thunder had a chance to go against LeBron when he was in Miami (in 2012).”
The Thunder took Game 1 of that series but then lost four straight. In fact, they lost the next three games by six points or fewer, as James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh got the best of Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
This time around, the names and faces would be a lot different. But they’d be just as electric.
“I think that’s a really interesting matchup,” Whitaker said. “We know that Cleveland against the Warriors, Cleveland knows the blueprint. They figured it out last year in the playoffs, at least for their roster, to slow it down. It was partly because of injuries, but LeBron basically had to play point guard and he would walk the ball up the court, use as much clock as possible and then try to create something at the end of the clock. I think the Thunder will go the other way and try to play as fast as they can. That’s what they’ve been doing against Golden State. They’re rolling right now.”
Durant and Westbrook have been on fire all postseason, especially Westbrook, who is averaging 28.0 points, 11.0 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 steals against the Warriors.
In the end, Whitaker believes Westbrook would give Oklahoma City the advantage over Cleveland.
“The matchup that I think would really probably tip it toward the Thunder is at point guard,” he said. “Westbrook right now is playing as well as he’s ever played. As good as Kyrie is defensively, I don’t know if he has a chance against Russell Westbrook. So if it ends up being Cleveland versus OKC, it favors OKC.”