The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City franchises have been massive parts of modern NBA history, particularly because they have competed for NBA titles during the 2010s era. Of course, the Heat and Thunder met up in the 2012 Finals during the lockout-shortened season. The Heat came out on top in that series, mainly thanks to the brilliance of LeBron James and the veteran experience of stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Going up against a young Thunder team led by 23-year olds Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Heat were simply smarter and better on the court.
But how would the all-time Heat fare against the all-time Thunder? We have seen some elite stars play for the Miami Heat including Alonzo Mourning, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and even current star Jimmy Butler; as they make up the core of the all-time Heat. Similarly, we have seen some spectacular talent play for the Seattle SuperSonics/OKC Thunder throughout history, with Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Paul George joining Durant and Westbrook in an all-time lineup.
Between both all-time lineups, which franchise would come out on top in a best-of-7 series? It is time to find out.
Dwyane Wade vs. Gary Payton
Dwyane Wade is not a natural point guard by nature because of his size and playing style, but he is more than capable of bringing the ball up the court alongside LeBron James. Wade will be a force in this series, slashing to the basket on offense and being a fiend on defense.
Meanwhile, Gary Payton will have to exhaust himself in this series to give his team a chance. Wade will be a handful, but so will Jimmy Butler and LeBron James. Even if Payton gives up some size, his determination and aggressiveness will allow him to defend all 3 Miami Heat playmakers throughout the series.
Jimmy Butler vs. Russell Westbrook
Jimmy Butler understands his teammates are all Hall of Famers, so he will be a nuisance as much as possible on both ends of the floor. Butler cannot score as Wade and James can, but he will do his best to keep up. Defensively, he will be absolutely key because he will get under his opponent’s skins and set the tone with aggression early.
Russell Westbrook can only play at a superstar level with the ball in his hands, which will render him frustrated on some occasions. But he will adapt as all great players do, and will average a near triple-double in the series. As an explosive guard, Russ will also be vital for OKC in remaining in attack mode on the fastbreak.
LeBron James vs. Paul George
At the wing spot, LeBron James brings the most talent on the floor and everyone knows that. The King is not only the smartest player on the floor but also the most unselfish. He recognizes he has elite two-way stars alongside him and will accept a playmakers role because controlling the pace against a team with the likes of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will be absolutely important.
Paul George will have to carry a heavy defensive load alongside Gary Payton because both stars will need to free up Westbrook and Durant as much as possible. George will defend LeBron on most occasions, and also take turns on Dwyane Wade who will have a fantastic series.
Chris Bosh vs. Kevin Durant
At the power forward spot, Chris Bosh will be a handful at the expense of the Thunder. His floor spacing and defensive ability at the rim help the Heat control the game throughout the series because there simply isn’t a weak link in the lineup. With Bosh spotting up for shots and doing the dirty work, he forms a perfect partnership with Alonzo Mourning.
An all-time great scorer, Kevin Durant will easily lead his team in scoring. In fact, Durant will lead all scorers in PPG for the series from both teams. His ability to create his own offense and put pressure on Miami will be critical for the Thunder to extend the series as much as possible.
Alonzo Mourning vs. Shawn Kemp
Alonzo Mourning is a Hall of Famer for a reason because he is one of the most impactful centers of his generation. The All-Star center was an elite shot-blocker, rim protector, and leader for the Miami Heat for years. He forms a perfect partnership with Bosh in the frontcourt and will handle a relatively undersized center in Shawn Kemp.
Kemp is giving up some pounds at the center spot, mainly because he is a natural power forward. A big man who loves to catch lobs and feed off All-Star guards, Kemp will be on Mourning’s radar throughout the series. As a result, the 6-time All-Star will not have a dominant series although he will be a perfect running partner for Payton and Westbrook in the offense.
Miami Heat Advantages
The all-time Heat have incredible size, power, and defensive potential. Wade is more athletic than Payton and is also a terrific defensive player who can block shots, grab steals, and stay on the ball. Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler and LeBron James form a dynamic defensive duo on the wing. With size, explosiveness, and determination; Butler and James will be difficult to handle on both ends of the floor.
In the paint, the Heat can also control the boards with natural center Alonzo Mourning who is one of the league’s greatest defenders and shot-blockers. Chris Bosh is more of a finesse player, but he is no slouch at defending the rim and is normally clutch in key defensive sequences. It will be very tough to defeat Miami as a result.
Oklahoma City Thunder Advantages
The Thunder have excellent scoring potential because all five guys on the floor can be offensively inclined. What they give up in strength and girth, they make up for in firepower. Gary Payton will be tasked with being the primary defender for the guards, but he can push the pace to set up his superstar teammates.
Of course, Westbrook and Durant will match what Wade and LeBron will do on the break with explosiveness and 110% effort. The versatility of Paul George forces Miami to defend the perimeter and watch out on the break, while Shawn Kemp will be a load to handle as he looks to receive lobs and run on the break whenever he can.
Who Wins Best-Of-7 Series?
Game 1 goes to the OKC Thunder by a margin of 10 points, because their offense clicks on all cylinders. Durant goes off for 35 points, Westbrook chips in 18 points and 12 assists, and Geroge nails a game-high 5 three-pointers. With Miami struggling to get into a rhythm, they fall to a rampant Thunder squad who simply runs them out of the building. With LeBron and company left shell-shocked, adjustments will be made immediately.
Game 2 sees the Heat respond with a vengeance, as James and Wade combine for 60 points on 51% shooting. Such efficiency and offensive output render the Thunder ineffective, even if Shawn Kemp drops 22 points on 60% shooting. Mourning and Bosh control the paint, failing to give up the easy points they gave in Game 1.
The pivotal Game 3 will seemingly swing the series in either team’s favor, and the Heat survive a 33-point 4th quarter by the Thunder courtesy of a Dwyane Wade game-winner. With the Thunder down 10 entering the 4th, they go on a 13-2 run to start the quarter to swing the tide in their favor. Jumpshots and free throws are the names of the game in this one because Durant finishes with 14 points in the 4th alone. But with the game on the line, Wade takes on Westbrook and nails a step-back jumper with 0.5 seconds to win the game.
Game 4 is also a close battle, with scores tied 99-99 with 1 minute remaining. Both sides struggle to find their rhythm as defense rules above all, and key defensive stops by Miami give the team a massive 3-1 lead. With Geroge driving to the basket, he has his shot blocked by Mourning before a LeBron James fastbreak ends in an And-1. Durant has his mid-range shot barely rim out, resulting in a corner three by Bosh which seals the game.
Down 3-1, the Thunder are left frustrated by their inability to control the tempo of games. Gary Payton responds has his best game, dropping 22 points, 13 assists, and 5 steals while carrying the Thunder to a convincing 120-105 victory. Durant chips in 28, Westbrook grabs a triple-double, and Paul George leads all scorers with 29 big points. Miami seemingly run out of steam, with James the only player competing at his usual level with a 32 point triple-double.
Miami understand that putting away a talented team like the Thunder will not be easy, and that is why an OT period is needed for a winner to be crowned. Both teams find their offense in the second half, nailing over 50% of their shots from the field. A Kevin Durant contested jumper at the buzzer sends the game into OT, giving his team a fighting chance for a Game 7.
But it is not meant to be, because Dwyane Wade scores 8 straight points in OT. With the superstar shooting guard taking over in the pivotal period, the Thunder cannot match that production and fall in 6 games. Due to his clutch performances throughout the series, Wade is voted Finals MVP.
Final Result: All-Time Miami Heat Vs. All-Time Oklahoma City Thunder 4-2
Finals MVP: Dwyane Wade