The NBA Finals begin tonight at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, and the stars on the court will be plentiful. The dynamic trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden lead the Thunder, while the more publicized “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will counter for the Heat. The teams split in two games this season with the Thunder winning at home, 103-87, and the Heat evening it up in Miami, 98-93.
While the teams will obviously decide who wins the championship, many fans are focusing on the head-to-head matchup of James and Durant. Miami is back in the finals for a second-straight season thanks to another stellar campaign from James, who won his third MVP in four years. Meanwhile, Durant won his third consecutive NBA scoring title this year and has the Thunder rolling through the competition in the postseason. Multiple defenders will guard each superstar throughout the series, and the player who can hit the big shots late in games may decide the champion.
The NBA Finals change to a 2-3-2 format for the home team, instead of the 2-2-1-1-1 formula used in the earlier rounds of the postseason. The Thunder have the home-court advantage in this series and are 8-0 in Oklahoma City during the playoffs. The OKC franchise won its only title as the Seattle Supersonics in 1979, while the Wade-led Heat took the NBA crown in 2006. Durant and company are playing in their first final, while James hopes his personal third shot at a title is the charm in 2012.