Skip to content

Which teams could crash the Thunder/Heat finals next year?

Jun 22, 2012, 1:47 PM EDT

Oklahoma City Thunder v Miami Heat - Game Five Getty Images

These finals didn’t feel like a one-time thing.

One year from now the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder could well be back on the NBA’s biggest stage. This is a budding rivalry. Between LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Between the flashy East Coast city and the solid Midwestern city. Miami’s stars are in their primes (and likely will draw some quality veteran free agents willing to chase a ring). The Thunder core is still all just 23 and they are getting better every time they step on the court.

A full on rivalry like this would be good for the league, and if this finals was any indication, good for us fans.

But what teams are waiting in the wings to crash this party?

A rematch may be the logical pick but it is far from a lock. There are teams on the cusp of this dance, maybe more free agency — and the Dwight Howard trade we all expect — changes the landscape this summer.

Which teams could spoil David Stern’s plans for a rematch?

The Chicago Bulls. We all expected an epic Eastern Conference finals between the Bulls and Heat, only to watch that get torn up along with Derrick Rose’s ACL. But Rose likely comes back the middle of next season and will have his legs under him when the playoffs come around. The Bulls defend like beasts, they have good athletes, they are intense like their coach Tom Thibodeau, they have had the best record in the East two. They pose a serious challenge to the Heat.

The San Antonio Spurs. They have evolved into an offensive force led by Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Turns out Tim Duncan has a few miles left on the legs after all. They need to find some athletic, younger role players to go with the guys they already have, guys that fit the system, they could put together another run. Remember this team has had the best record in the West the last couple years, they blew through the first couple rounds of the playoffs this year looking dominant and they could be back.

The Los Angeles Clippers. This is the other up-and-coming team in the West, a team on the same learning curve as the Thunder just a few steps behind. But they have the best point guard in the game, they have a wildly athletic front line led by Blake Griffin, and they have some depth. If they can land a good two guard and upgrade their role players this summer, and if Vinny Del Negro is capable of leading them, the Clippers could be the second best team in the West. Or, Donald Sterling could screw the whole thing up.

The Indiana Pacers. They were the third best team in the East, they have a young core with Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger and Darren Collison who should be better next year. And they have cap space — a lot of cap space. If this team can lure or trade for one more elite player (someone like a Deron Williams) they would become contenders in the East.

Teams that if they make some big/key moves in the offseason and everything breaks their way could be in this conversation, too: Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies, Philadelphia 76ers.

Latest Posts
  1. Flip Saunders: Kevin Garnett will start for Timberwolves

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    Kevin Garnett AP

    Will Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Pekovic or Gorgui Dieng start beside him?

  2. Flip Saunders still maintains he planned to keep Kevin Love until Andrew Wiggins offer

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    2013 NBA Draft Lottery Getty Images

    Timberwolves apparently weren’t just going to trade Love for whatever they could get

  3. Mark Cuban: NBA would have punished Tom Brady more harshly than Roger Goodell did

    Jul 30, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Mark Cuban Mark Cuban

    Suspending Patriots quarterback for a quarter of the season was bare minimum for Mavericks owner

  4. Report: Team USA uncertain whether Dwight Howard, John Wall will attend minicamp

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:07 PM EDT

    Dwight Howard, John Wall AP

    Jerry Colangelo said attendance was mandatory to be considered for 2016 Olympic team

  5. Adam Silver: NBA on track to play regular-season games in Africa

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:22 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwm0ndlhnjzlyjziyjk4otqxymqym2y5yzrintq4yjm1 AP

    NBA commissioner confident Africa will get a preseason game

  6. Thabo Sefolosha: Too soon to say when I’ll play again

    Jul 30, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

    Thabo Sefolosha AP

    Hawks wing says his leg and ankle feel better

  7. 76ers sign Richaun Holmes

    Jul 30, 2015, 9:28 AM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers: Richaun Holmes Portrait Getty Images

    Philadelphia drafted Holmes in second round

  8. Matt Barnes ready to “foul the beep” out of DeAndre Jordan when Grizzlies, Clippers meet

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:33 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpthkoty3ytfmn2fjnjvlyjeyytc0mwvlngi0nwqyzmjh AP

    Barnes is a perfect fit in for the “grit and grind” style of the Grizzlies.

  9. Wesley Matthews says Trail Blazers never made him an offer, “I was pissed off”

    Jul 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three Getty Images

    Portland not making a call means they knew Aldridge was gone and it was time to rebuild.

  10. Report: Rockets sign Chuck Hayes to one-year deal

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:55 AM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Getty Images

    The Rockets have nice depth up front.

  11. Anthony Davis excited to get running in Alvin Gentry’s offense

    Jul 29, 2015, 10:55 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four Getty Images

    The Pelicans were one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA last season, that’s about to change.

  12. Chris Kaman has new reality show, to air on Mark Cuban’s network

    Jul 29, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Lakers Philadelphia 76ers v Los Angeles Lakers

    “I think someone who would watch this would think there is something wrong with me and something wrong with my friends.” — Chris Kaman

  13. Report: Veteran point guard Andre Miller reaches one-year deal with Timberwolves

    Jul 29, 2015, 8:47 PM EDT

    Shabazz Napier, Andre Miller Shabazz Napier, Andre Miller

    Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are about to be finishing alley-oops from the best lob passer in the game.

  14. Warriors promote Luke Walton to lead assistant coach

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans Getty Images

    Kerr says Luke Walton is a future head coach in the NBA.

  15. Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey says expect more small ball from the Raptors this year

    Jul 29, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards - Game Four Getty Images

    Toronto has shifted the roster to be more defensive, and be able to go smaller.

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Bryant (2958)
  2. B. Haywood (2505)
  3. I. Thomas (2468)
  4. A. Randolph (1976)
  5. L. James (1947)