Starting the NBA playoffs league experts agreed only one player could stop LeBron James from reaching the Finals, and that was Derrick Rose. With him out, it may fall to Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant to do the job instead.
Bryant and Durant have best teams to upend LeBron James and Miami Heat
The Western conference NBA playoffs have had few surprises so far. The Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder have both taken firm control of their series led by two of the best players in the game. Sadly most of the drama in the playoffs hasn't come from tight games but big injuries. The New York Knicks lost Iman Shumpert. The Boston Celtics still don't have Ray Allen. Yet the biggest shockwave came when 2011 MVP Derrick Rose tore the ACL in his left knee. With him out and the other Eastern conference teams posing few threats, it seems nothing can stop LeBron James from finally making good on his promise to win a championship with the Miami Heat. Two players with the Thunder and Lakers however may put a stop to his ring fitting just yet. League scoring leader Kevin Durant and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant are both playing excellent basketball. Outside of the gritty San Antonio Spurs, most experts see those two teams clashing in the conference finals. If true, it could set up a titanic battle with a Heat team growing more and more desperate.
Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder do not fear Miami
True championship teams draw fear from their opponents. The Heat have drawn nothing but hatred and physical play. Though the Chicago Bulls are not expected to stop them this year, the Western Conference teams like the Lakers, Spurs and Thunder showed during the regular season they can beat Miami. James and his teammates cannot win consistently on the road and don't have the greatest home court advantage with the somewhat questionable attendance they get in South Beach. The team has played good basketball through the first two games against a listless, injured New York Knicks team but what will happen when LeBron and company actually play top competition.
Almost every NBA circle gasped and cringed when Derrick Rose went down. What he meant to basketball was a huge loss for the league and its playoff ratings. With him gone few teams can stop LeBron James and the Miami Heat from reaching the finals. Winning there will depend on if Kobe Bryant has some magic left or if Kevin Durant can get it done in crunch time.