Jan 29, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (13) fouls San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan (21) during the second half at the AT&T Center. Chicago San Antonio 96-86. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
There are many different possibilities when it comes to predicting an NBA Finals matchup. Here are five that fans would love to watch.
#1 – San Antonio Spurs vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James get shot at Tim Duncan with new Big Three
After watching his threepeat bid go up in smoke, LeBron James made a conscious decision to ditch the fading Miami Heat to find a new team to help him regain his throne. The Cleveland Cavaliers obliged by pairing him with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. James would love nothing better than to test this new Big Three against the team that has haunted him in the Finales for years in the San Antonio Spurs, and their star Tim Duncan. How could fans not want to see that?
#2 – Los Angeles Clippers vs. Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose and Chris Paul
The subplots would be rich in this series from top to bottom. It would start with the superstar showdown at point guard between Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. They have had some epic battles over the years, with each having success. Safe to say that would only become magnified in the Finals.
Student vs. Teacher
Then there is the coaching angle. Doc Rivers was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers from Boston where he helped them win a championship back in 2008. Tom Thibodeau, who was his assistant at the time, parlayed that same success into his heading job with the Chicago Bulls. A meeting in the Finals would be a true Student vs. Teacher occasion that doesn’t happen often in the NBA.
#3 – Houston Rockets vs. Chicago Bulls
Age old question of offense vs. defense
It’s an argument that transcends all sports, not just basketball. Is offense or defense more important to win a championship? Obviously a team needs elements of both, but seeing the high-flying Houston Rockets attack match up against the suffocating Bulls defense would make for a rare black and white measurement for basketball fans to latch onto.
Nikola Mirotic angle
Something else that is interesting to note is the presence of Nikola Mirotic. Most don’t realize that it was Houston who traded away the 23rd pick in the 2011 draft. That pick eventually landed in Chicago, which they used to draft the European star. Seeing how he pans out in this series would raise questions either way about whether either team should’ve made the moves they did. Such is the great draw of the draft.
#4 – Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Kevin Durant out for revenge on James
The clock is ticking for the Oklahoma City Thunder in regards to their championship hopes. Kevin Durant is beginning to waver on his loyalties, possibly considering moving out in free agency when his contract is up. That only increases the urge to win while they can, and helping get revenge on LeBron James who denied them a ring back in 2010 would make for the perfect end to a great story of a player and a franchise he helped build.
#5 – San Antonio Spurs vs. Chicago Bulls
Team-oriented philosophies collide
Most would say that the NBA isn’t really a league that welcome team-oriented basketball anymore, that is a roster focused more on overall depth and selfless play than superstar power. Two teams that go against that rule are the Spurs under Gregg Popovich and Bulls under Tom Thibodeau. Their systems don’t focus on getting the ball to the stars. It’s about execution, passing and defense. It doesn’t matter who takes the shot as long as the shot taken has the best chance of going in. It doesn’t matter where the defensive help comes from as long as it comes when required. That is why the Spurs and Bulls are two of the most respected teams in the league, and why it would be great to see them square off in the Finals.