It seems like ages since we’ve last witnessed an NBA game, but after a long wait, the NBA Finals are finally ready to get started tonight. Dallas vs Miami wasn’t predicted by many experts when the Playoffs began, but they’ve been the best teams in the Playoffs thus far and it should be a great series. The Mavericks are in search of their first championship led by Dirk Nowitzki, playing the best basketball of his likely Hall of Fame career. The Heat have been resurrected in the postseason, looking like the team we all expected when they joined forces this Summer. So, who do our experts have lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy? Here’s our NBA Finals Predictions…
Michael De Leon
Any comparisons to the 2006 NBA Finals should be thrown out the window. These are both different teams and this series is closer than some think. The popular opinion is that with three superstars on the Heat against a one-superstar team in the Mavericks, the Heat should be able to win another championship with LeBron James winning the first.
My apologies to ESPN and the rest of the mainstream media who have had the Larry O’Brien trophy inscribed since that July day last summer when James made his decision public. James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have their work cut out for them with these Dallas Mavericks.
As a Spurs fan, it’s been a difficult awakening to take off the silver & black blinders and really appreciate what the Mavericks have done. If the Heat decide to throw the kitchen sink at Dirk, ask Oklahoma City how that worked out. Try defending him one-on-one with one player and he’ll either be too tall for your twos and threes or two fast for your fours and fives. If the Heat try to stop Dirk and let everyone else on the Mavs roster beat them, they will beat them. Shawn Marion, Jason Kidd, J.J. Barea, Jason Terry and Tyson Chandler will be ready to shoulder the workload.
I know, you’re telling me that there are also a few guys named LeBron, Dwyade and Chris in this series. There is no denying that they are a great combination, but I haven’t see them all play great at one time very often. James and Wade will also have Marion and DeShawn Stevenson defending them and while the Mavericks were once called “Allas” because of their lack of defense, this is a different team. One other problem Miami may have is defending Barea. Once he is in the game, defending quick point guards has been one of Miami’s weaknesses. It’ll be a great series, but i have Mavs in 7.
At this point of the season and seeing the way they dismantled two supposedly superior teams in five games each, you’d have to just be searching for excuses as to why the Heat won’t win their second franchise championship against the Dallas Mavs. First of all, history is on their side. Teams simply don’t win it all with just one All-Star caliber scoring option. Dallas has a great core of players and fully deserve to be in the final round, but the truth is that the Mavs haven’t changed their past until they win it all and it remains to be seen if Dirk can truly be clutch when his back is against the wall when it matters the most because, let’s be honest due to their playoff history, you’ll excuse me if I reserve the right to wait until I see it to believe it. These Mavs aren’t exactly young and athletic so how they’re going to hold back the Big 3 playing as well as they’ve ever collectively played remains to be seen as well. Plus, they have only faced fractured teams in the Blazers, Lakers and Thunder.
It’s easy to say now that the Celtics were too old and the Bulls too young because we already know the results. Before the playoffs, many pundits were saying that the Heat wouldn’t be able to beat those teams because of all their supposed flaws. Bosh wasn’t tough enough. LeBron isn’t clutch. No bench. Doc and Thibs will surely outcoach Erik Spoelstra.
Want to know why teams with multiple All-Star scoring options win rings? Because when the game gets tight down to the wire the greats lead the way and make incredible, where-did-he-come-up-with-that plays. Just look at how the Big 3 took over late in all of the Heat’s victories the last two rounds. Plus, the Heat are finally healthy with fresh reinforcements in Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller solidifying their crunch-time lineup.
The Mavs couldn’t handle Wade in 2006. Now they also have to also contain the best player in the league as well as a player capable of canceling out Dirk’s scoring output in a game or two this series. Heat in 6.
At some point in the playoffs, Miami’s weaknesses have got to hurt them. There’s no way Mike Bibby is the point guard for a championship team. And they’re still vulnerable inside. Boston was too hurt to take advantage of it and Chicago was too young. And like the bowls of porridge in front of Goldilocks, the third one will be just right.
Jason Kidd has been through it all before. He’s healthy, he’s experienced, and he’s still capable. He’s not going to blow by Bibby every trip down the floor, but he’s going to take advantage of the mismatch and get the ball where it needs to be on the floor. On the blocks, Tyson Chandler has the ability to both protect the rim and finish plays.
Oh, then there’s Dirk… who is only playing the best basketball of his career right now. It doesn’t matter how you guard him. He might be the best in the league in making bad shots. How do you defend the one-footed fall away?
Dallas will have a tough time containing Wade and LeBron. But their defense can be good enough to keep them at bay and stifle Chris Bosh. And really, as much as LeBron and Wade get the accolades, Miami’s always been their best when Bosh is playing well.
In the end, this Dallas team is a more high-powered, diverse offense than Miami has seen. It’s defense is capable of doing what needs to be done. They’re a more cohesive, more experienced team and they have the can’t-miss go-to guy. Miami’s run ends here, and Dirk gets his ring. Dallas in 6.
Dirk’s been sensational so far this postseason, but he hasn’t faced anybody one-on-one so far who will have a better chance at slowing him down then the three guys Miami will be rolling out on him. Assuming Udonis Haslem is healthy, the trio of Chris Bosh, LeBron James, and Haslem all present the possibility of giving him trouble as he tries to settle in between seven and ten feet from the basket.
Chris Bosh is far from a bruiser inside, but his length and athleticisim will allow him to get a hand up to contest that fadeaway off one-foot Dirk’s patented over the last few years. Then while Dirk will be able to get that same shot up over Haslem, he’ll be forced to bang his way into that spot to earn it. Maybe Udonis even pushes Dirk out to the permiter as a result. And if it’s not those two guys guarding Dirk it will be LeBron. Who has as much a chance as anybody in the league at staying with him.
Dirk will get his though, regardless of how good that defense is. He’s too good. The issue I see is that he’s going to have to work way too hard to get to that number. How many shots it takes Dirk to get to 25 is the key. If he shoots under 40% and ends up with 24, that’s not good for the Mavericks. And will he be allowed to explode for 40? That will depend more on his teammates than it will Dirk.
If JJ Barea can come off the bench in a similar way to the end of Lakers / beginning of the OKC series, where he scored 53 points in 59 minutes, that will help. Jason Terry needs to be on the plus side of 15 every game for Dallas to be effective too. Oh and Tyson Chandler must go for a double-double every night against Joel Anthony. If he goes out like Carlos Boozer did, it’s over.
So essentially I’m saying Dallas needs to play a perfect series to beat Miami. As it turns out, as much as we (okay as much as I) tried to point to things like LeBron “bumping Spo” at a TO earlier this season, the “crygate” fiasco, or even the Bulls Game One “team win” over the “talented individuals” of Miami and tell myself and others, see they’re fatallly flawed; they’re selfish; they’re not winners; they’re not a team. The truth is, Miami is basically as good as we thought they’d be when they signed up last summer.
LeBron James. Dwayne Wade. Chris Bosh. And now Haslem and Miller are coming on? Oh and James Jones, Dallas is going to play zone a lot reportedly. As bitter guy from Cleveland, I sadly predict the following: Miami in 6.
Again, my heart screams against picking Miami, but I just can’t go against my brain any longer. The Heat, unfortunately for all the haters out there, are the real deal. Pretty much every criticism of the Heat throughout the regular season has been answered in the Playoffs. They’ve had contributions at important times from guys like Udonis Haslem and James Jones. Chris Bosh has shut up all the critics with superstar caliber performances. And, most importantly, they have found a way to deliver in the clutch, especially LeBron James. One could argue that the only difference between the Heat this year and any of LeBron’s previous teams is the ability of this team to play quality 4th quarter basketball, and not the 1 v 5 stuff we saw in Cleveland. Then again, I imagine playing with two all-stars is a pretty nice situation for the King after all. In spite of Dirk, Dallas’ superior bench, outside shooting, and even the revenge/motivation factor after the 2006 Finals… the Heat are the pick. Miami in 6.
It pains me to the core to pick Dallas as a die-hard Spurs fans but Dallas looks like it will capture its first NBA title.
Dirk is playing out of his mind and Miami does not have anyone to stop him. Dallas’ bench is much deeper and the days off will benefit the Mavs. Sure Miami does have LeBron James and Dwayne Wade where they will either win a game for Miami or keep games close but will that be enough against a veteran squad like Dallas? Also, Chris Bosh is just too much of a wildcard. Will be play like he did versus Chicago? Will he be able to handle Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood in the post?
As for Miami, for them to survive, their big three of Wade, Bosh and James will have to play at a high pace throughout the series. In the end, Dallas has too much veteran leadership on this squad which will pay off in the end. Dallas in 6.
Who’s your pick to win the NBA Finals?