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George Karl picks Oklahoma City Thunder but favors Miami Heat's Lebron James

1:31 PM, Jun 12, 2012   |    comments
Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl on his sideline during the second quarter of a preseason game against the Phoenix Suns at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
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The Nuggets were 1-2 against Oklahoma City this year and 1-0 against Miami, but head coach George Karl has a different kind of respect for each team. 

"I love the Oklahoma City team. I think Scottie [Brooks] is a great young coach, and they are just tough to beat. I think we're trying to build our team a little bit around the philosophies of Oklahoma City," Karl stated at the Hope Classic Monday, a charity golf tournament benefiting the American Cancer Society. "We're anxious to challenge next year, but we'll also be cheering for them this year."

Despite getting ousted in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games, Karl has been watching the remaining rounds and seems to see a blueprint for the Thunder.

"I think Oklahoma City [will win] right now from what I feel. I think Boston gave Oklahoma City a good game plan to go against Miami," said Karl. "I think there is more fatigue in Miami than there is in Oklahoma City."

While his prediction could be accurate, he knows the opponent and Miami Heat forward Lebron James will have a definite say in the outcome. The Nuggets coach has high praise for the star who has received a lot of scrutiny in his career including for his departure from Cleveland in a made-for-television announcement.

"I think he has been abused by the skeptics, I think people don't respect how great of a player this man is," Karl said. 

Lebron has now won three MVP Awards over the last four seasons. 

"I think he is one of the top five players of all time; depending on your choice, you take Magic [Johnson], you take [Larry] Bird, you take [Michael] Jordan, take whoever you want to take."

NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant lead the Thunder into the series nearly unscathed in the playoffs thus far. It is a series that many predicted before the season and will be one fans, and the Denver head coach pays close attention to.

"I think it's going to be a very good series, it could easily go six or seven games," continued Karl.

Written by Andy McDonnell - 9NEWS High School sports producer

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