After what has been one of the most exciting NBA seasons in recent memory, the Finals have finally arrived. We have ourselves a rematch of the 2006 finals, as the Dallas Mavericks are set take on the Miami Heat. This should be a close and lengthy series as both teams are especially hungry for the title. Dallas is a team full of ringless vets who might not get another shot at a championship, however the media induced pressure on the infamous big three of the Heat is greater than that of the ticking clock against the aging Mavs. Since taking his talents to south beach last summer, Lebron James went from the beloved face of basketball to the biggest villain in sports. Now he is four wins away from silencing all the haters. The question is will he capitalize or will Dirk Nowitzki’s sizzling shooting be too hot for the Heat to handle?
I say no. There is no stopping Dirk Nowitzki but if the Heat can limit the amount of shots he takes per game than they can prevent the seven foot sharp shooter from taking over yet another playoff series. Miami head coach Eric Spoelstra will most likely put Chris Bosh or Udonis Haslem on Dirk for much of the series, but having Lebron defend Nowitzki could be his most rewarding option. Lebron’s athleticism is perhaps Spoelstra’s best bet to counter Dirk’s ability to shoot from anywhere on the court and could potentially be a huge momentum builder for Miami if their biggest star was able to contain Dallas’s MVP.
Physically, it will be an equally daunting task for Dallas to shut down LBJ and Dwayne Wade as most the Mavericks perimeter defenders have at least four or five years on the Heat’s star players. With that being said, the Mavs must counter by using their age to their advantage on the other end of the court. If we have learned anything from these playoffs thus far, it’s that experience wins games. Peja Stojakovic, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, and of course Dirk Nowitzki are all former all stars with at least ten plus years in the league. However, none of them have ever won a championship. If they want this to be their year they are going to have to play the smart conservative basketball that has gotten them this far.
The X factor of the series will undoubtedly be the bench. Dallas has a deep bench that consists of most of the veterans previously mentioned in addition to JJ Barea, who has had a breakout postseason. Miami on the other hand does not have nearly as many assets off the bench but they will rely on Mike Bibby, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. Miller has been extremely unreliable until recently, but if he can step up like he did in the series against Chicago it will be a big help to the Heat by taking some of the offensive load off the big three.
This is going to be a very interesting matchup because the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks are polar opposites. Dallas is a veteran squad who relies heavily on their bench and mid range/perimeter shooting. The Heat on the other hand are a younger team who depend on their superstars Dwayne Wade and Lebron James to penetrate the lane and score the vast majority of their points. The contrasting philosophies of these two teams make this series difficult to predict, but I have to go with the Heat simply due to what is at stake for Lebron James. He is four wins away from justifying that whole “decision” he made almost a year ago and reshaping his entire image. I usually view Lebron an unclutch player who has weak leadership qualities, but for some reason I think he is about to step up in a big way. I predict that the Heat will win it all in 6 games.