The Thunder's “Big 3” is Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden, in that order.
The Miami Heat's “Big 3” is LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, with Bosh always listed third.
The difference for the Heat in the NBA Finals could very well depend on whether Bosh remains the team's third wheel.
Bosh sneaking into the top two spots could mean trouble for OKC.
Back from an abdomen injury that caused him to miss nine playoff games, the 6-foot-11, 235-pound Bosh seemed to return to form in his last game, finishing with 19 points and eight rebounds coming off the bench in a Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics on Saturday night in Miami.
There also was something new in Bosh's repertoire as he drained 3 of 4 from 3-point range against the Celtics – this from a career 20.0-percent shooter beyond the arc in the postseason.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Heat and Thunder will be held Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Chesapeake Energy Arena and as of Monday, Bosh returning to the starting remained a game-time decision.
Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said he would “consider everything by (Tuesday) night” in choosing between Bosh and Shane Battier at the starting power forward spot.
“I think he can handle more minutes,” Spoelstra said of Bosh. “We'll have to see.”
Bosh sounded ready, willing and able while addressing media Monday at The Peake.
“It's coach's call and whatever he wants to do, I'm with it,” Bosh said.
In this year's playoffs, the Heat is 7-2 with Bosh and 5-4 without him.
“Any time you have any player out, you're going to have to make adjustments and you're going to struggle a little bit,” Bosh said.
Miami struggled more than “a little bit.”
The Heat was pronounced dead by some when it fell behind 2-1 on the road against the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and also when it trailed 3-2 going back to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“We had our backs against the wall a few times,” Bosh acknowledged. “I'm really just proud of my teammates for not making any excuses. Everybody could have made any excuse in the world about why we couldn't have overcome our adversity, but we did and we're here and we have a chance to capitalize on the situation.”
During the regular season, Bosh started all 57 games he played, averaging 18.0 points, 7.9 rebounds and shooting 48.7 percent from the field. Bosh posting these same numbers in the Finals literally would turn up the heat on OKC.
Though the Thunder is in its first Finals, three players have championship rings in Derek Fisher (five), Kendrick Perkins (one) and Nazr Mohammed (one).
OKC's four core players, however, are all 23 years old or younger in Durant (23), Westbrook (23), Harden (22) and Serge Ibaka (22).
What the Heat experienced in losing 4-2 to the Dallas Mavericks in last year's Finals could be advantageous to Miami.
“I don't know. I guess so,” Bosh said. “I look at it as anything we do is an advantage. That's how I want to look at the whole situation. We have experience. I have experience. We have experience with the bad part, with the pain and the suffering that comes with it. That's something that can really help us as this series goes on.
“We just know what to expect. I think our composure's going to be better and we're going to play our best basketball, period. It hasn't been an easy road back here.”
New to the Heat is playing the role of the underdog. The Thunder is a 3-2 favorite, and Bosh didn't seem the least bit offended.
“I think it's great,” Bosh said. “We've dealt with many things in our short time (last two years) together and the fact we're not always the favorite I think is a great position to be in. It really doesn't matter. We were the favorites last year and look what happened. Favorites, home court, that really doesn't come into play too much. It's about who's out there and who's playing.”
Will Bosh be one of those out there playing?