NBA Talk: Year of the Thunder?: After beating the Heat with a large win, are the Thunder now the favorite to win the championship?

Posted by Andrew Shi

The Thunder was always going to leave the Western Conference as it's champion, but confidence that the team might emerge as the 2012 NBA champions was highly contested... until Sunday.

The Thunder, in one of the season's most anticipated games, beat the Heat by a hefty 16 points. After a year to acclimate the Heat's big three (Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh) to working together, and a blow of humility after their loss to the Mavericks in the NBA finals, most assumed that James would receive his first ring this year. That assumption seemed to depart with the Heat as they left heads hung from the OKC stadium.

Perhaps it was the effects of the game being away that attributed to the Heat loss, but the Thunder also seemed to be having a much better performance this year than the Heat. Kevin Durant is ranked second in the league for points, James third. Russell Westbrook is 5th, Wade 6th. Thunder's Serge Ibaka is first in the league with blocks, but the first Heat player to make the list is Joel Anthony at 25th.

Although Westbrook is only 23rd in the league for assists, Wade is 32. The only statistic that exists where a Heat player beats out a Thunder player is in rebounds where James is 25th and Durant is 29.

In general the Thunder score more per game than the Heat, which is why the Thunder is first in the league and the Heat is in third. On the other end though, the Heat on average allow fewer points scored by the opposing team per game than the Thunder ( the Heat allow 93.63, the Thunder allow 97.16).

So what does this all mean? It means that when the Heat and Thunder meet in the NBA Finals, which seems very likely as the Bulls still don't seem qualified for the No. 1 Eastern Conference seed they hold, it is going to be a very close series. It could very well go to game seven, and the win could easily go to either team. If both teams continue to play the way they have though, it seems that the Thunder will come on top. More definite predictions will have to wait until the two powerhouse teams meet again on April 4 in Miami. 

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