Miami Heat Or Oklahoma City Thunder?

The Game, Bow Wow, Chris Carrabba and others reveal their picks for the 2012 NBA Finals
  • Photo: Noel Vasquez/Getty Images
    The Game and his son, Harlem Caron Taylor, attend a Los Angeles Lakers game in 2012
  • Photo: Bennett Raglin/WireImage.com
    Bow Wow
  • Photo: Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com
    Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba
  • Photo: Mark Sullivan/Getty Images
    Speakers' Blair Taylor (left) and Keon B
  • Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images
    Manchester Orchestra's Andy Hull
  • Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images
    Jermaine Paul
  • Photo: Leighton Media
    Joe Deninzon
  • Photo: Lester Cohen/WireImage.com
    Anthony Hamilton
June 12, 2012 -- 12:50 pm PDT
By Bruce Britt / GRAMMY.com

Heat! Thunder!

No, we're not talking about a hell-spawned weather phenomenon, but rather the 2012 NBA Finals, which pits the Miami Heat against the Oklahoma City Thunder beginning tonight with game one. In the wake of a near-disastrous 2011–2012 season shortened by a lockout dispute, professional basketball fans are looking forward to one of the most exciting NBA Finals matchups in recent memory.

Of course, sports and music stars have always had an affinity for one another, so we asked several musicians and artists for their NBA Finals predictions and a brief summary of how they see the series panning out. The artist predictions are in, but first some background on the teams.

The big drama surrounding this year's finals centers on Miami Heat small forward LeBron James. A three-time Most Valuable Player, James is always a groomsman, but never a groom — he's reached the finals before, but has never won. James will now face tremendous pressure to win a championship and silence his critics.

Expectations aren't quite as high for the Thunder. Formed in 2008 from the ashes of the late, great Seattle SuperSonics, the Thunder continue their remarkable ascent. Though shooting guard James Harden and point guard Russell Westbrook have contributed greatly to their team's rapid rise, it is three-time NBA scoring champion and All-Star Kevin Durant who raises the stakes. If the Thunder win the finals, sports experts will surely crown Durant the NBA's greatest active player, a situation that could be problematic for the Heat's James.

Without further ado, let's see where the musical sports experts stand on either side of the court.

Artist: The Game (aka Jayceon Terrell Taylor)
Position: Rapper/songwriter
Favorite NBA team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012 NBA Finals prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder in six games

"The Thunder [have] got [the] complete package. I feel they have an answer to everything the Heat has got, plus more. To me, Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA today. He can score at-will. He's got a jumper, a three-point shot [and] he can post up. LeBron is a beast, but I don't think he's a better complete player than Durant."

Artist: Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional)
Position: Singer/songwriter
Favorite NBA team: Miami Heat
2012 NBA Finals prediction: Miami Heat in six games

"I'm [going to] go with the Heat because of this seemingly new attitude from LeBron James. If he can stay as aggressive and focused as he was in the last few games of the semifinals … then I call six games. I don't really remember a series like this where you had the No. 1 and No. 2 players going head-to-head. You know that James and Durant are going to elevate each other's play. You might see Durant playing at a defensive level that he hasn't before."

Artist: Bow Wow (aka Shad Gregory Moss)
Position: Rapper/actor
Favorite NBA team: No preference ("I just love great basketball.")
2012 NBA Finals prediction: Miami Heat in six games

"This is LeBron's third time to the finals, and the third time should be the charm. He has a veteran mindset to the point that he should know how to get it. He and the rest of [the] Heat are tired of the media scrutiny, and LeBron knows what's at stake. He cannot lose to a 23-year-old Kevin Durant. You've got two of the top NBA players who are both signed to the same sports apparel company, which is Nike, so it should get kind of interesting."

Artist: Anthony Hamilton
Position: Singer/songwriter
Favorite NBA team: Charlotte Bobcats
2012 NBA Finals prediction: Miami Heat in six games

"I don't think it's going to be a blowout. I love both teams, but [I want] Miami to win it. I think LeBron's mentality has changed. He's not really concerned about all the judgment that's against him. He's really focused now. Kevin Durant is very versatile … and he's going to bring his A-game, but I take Miami."

Artist: Jermaine Paul
Position: Singer
Favorite team: New York Knicks
2012 NBA Finals prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games

"I think Kevin Durant brings the best out of LeBron, but I think Durant is going to pull it off. I'm just a fan of Durant — the way he carries himself [and] the way he plays the game. I think it's going to be a matchup problem with the Heat when it comes to [the Thunder's] James Harden. As far as scoring, I think Harden is going to be [the] big difference maker."

Artist: Andy Hull (Manchester Orchestra)
Position: Singer/songwriter
Favorite NBA team: No preference
2012 NBA Finals prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder is six games

"This is definitely my ideal finals [series]. I think Kevin Durant [against] LeBron James is pretty much the best matchup you could have in the finals. It's just the kind of basketball and competition that I like, which is generally fast-paced. If either one of these teams wins, I'm happy … but I think it will be the Thunder. I've watched both teams play a lot, and the Heat just doesn't have the bench. It'll be interesting to see what happens if LeBron doesn't win."

Artist: Blair Taylor (Speakers)
Position: Singer/Producer
Favorite NBA team: Los Angeles Lakers
2012 NBA Finals prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder in seven games

"Both teams are playing smarter and a lot harder. Ball movement, consistency … everything is on point. But straight up — I don't like LeBron. I've got to go with the Thunder. [Oklahoma City] has just brought it out. It's going to be a real tough matchup. I feel like the series is going to go back and forth, and home court advantage is going to play a really big part, but I'm taking [Oklahoma City]."

Artist: Joe Deninzon (Stratospheerius)
Position: Singer/violinist/songwriter
Favorite NBA team: Cleveland Cavaliers
2012 NBA Finals prediction: Miami Heat in six games

"The Thunder will put up a fight. They're an up-and-coming team and they're definitely going to be on the map for a long time to come, but the Heat is my guess. As a sports fan growing up in Cleveland — and getting used to having your heart repeatedly broken and ground into a fine powder — I, as well as most of my fellow Clevelanders, have a deep, deep hatred for LeBron James. It would be nice if the Heat had their a**es handed to them. Do I get prize for this?"

The artists have weighed in with their predictions and it looks like the odds are split straight down the middle — four picks for each team. Who do you think will reign supreme in the 2012 NBA Finals? Leave us a comment below.

(Bruce Britt is an award-winning journalist and essayist whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Billboard and other publications. He lives in Los Angeles.)

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