Jun 17, 2012; Miam, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) listens to the National Anthem before game three in the 2012 NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Finals Game 5 Primer

Tonight’s Game 5 is one of two things: the long-awaited coronation of “King James” or a series shifting victory on the part of the Thunder. Both are possible, but I think the coronation of LeBron is much more likely

I favor a Heat win tonight for several reasons, starting with the fact that they hold all of the momentum. They’ve won three straight games, and every game has ended with the Heat looking like the more mature, confident team. And in Game 4, when LeBron couldn’t even finish the game and Russell Westbrook simply went off, the Heat pulled out a victory. They get scoring from role players like Shane Battier and Mario Chalmers, something the Thunder haven’t had at all in the Finals. Chalmers, in fact scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter of Game 4. That’s the kind of step-up performance that wins titles.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m still very high on the Thunder. They’re learning the hard lessons that Miami learned last year against Dallas. This time next year, we could be talking about the Thunder winning the Finals, and talking about Kevin Durant is the new star in the NBA. But I can’t see them coming back from a 3-1 deficit.  James Harden hasn’t played well in the last two games, Durant hasn’t been special other than in Game 1, and they would need a magical three games in order to pull this out. If there is a team to do it, though, it is the Thunder simply because if their “Big Three” suddenly clicks, they are next to unstoppable on offense.\

As for Game 5, I expect it to be a lot like the rest of the series. I’m expecting another drag out, down to the wire game that will have viewers on the edge of their seats.  Expect Durant and Westbrook to play great games and score tons of points, but to have their stats balanced out by LeBron and Dwayne Wade’s scoring output. I’ll take the Heat 97, Thunder 91, but I wouldn’t shock me to have it flipped the other way. If Harden plays well and a role player steps up, then the Thunder could win. But I can’t count on that to happen, and I’m expecting LeBron to get his crown tonight in Miami.

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Tags: Bosh Chris Manning Durant Harden Lebron NBA Finals Wade Westbrook

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