And then there were two. The Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks have earned the right to be called Conference Champions and will meet in the NBA Finals for the right to be called NBA Champions.
This year’s Finals matchup is a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals that was won by the Heat in six games. In those finals the Mavericks held a 2-0 series lead, until the Finals MVP DWayne Wade seized control and led the Heat to the title. Fives years later, they meet again with two completely different teams and mindsets. Dallas is no longer soft choke artists and the Miami Heat are no longer a fragile, uncertain squad.
In order for the Dallas Mavericks to win the NBA Title they must do a number of things. The most important keys to victory are to slow down Miami’s big 3, play physical defense, get stellar bench production, and a legendary series from superstar Dirk Nowitzki. Although the list is large, they must execute in those areas if they wish to hoist up the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Dallas has their hands full with the Miami big 3 as they account for almost all of Miami’s offensive production. Rick Carlisle’s defense is going to have to limit a member of the big 3 each game. Unlike Miami’s previous three opponents, the Mavericks have the fire power to score with the Heat. With that in hand, limiting a member of the Miami trio each night will go a long way. In order to accomplish this Dallas has to continue to commit to playing tough, physical defense. Unlike Chicago, Dallas’ defense is actually strong at the rim. Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood do a great job at defending the basket. Chandler is the key, when he is flying around, blocking shot and forcing tough shot, The Mavs are tough to score on. Shawn Marion is another terrific one on one defender. He gave the Scoring Champ Kevin Durant all he could handle in the Western Conference Finals. Marion will most likely be the primary defender on LeBron James and his length and athleticism should help him compete. Deshawn Stevenson is in the Mavs starting lineup solely for defense. He is a tough, gritty defender, similare to Keith Bogans. With Bogans defending him Wade struggled with his shot in the Eastern Conference Finals. Stevenson will get the bulk of then minutes on Wade and will have to stifle him the same way Bogans did. Stevenson may also see some time against James, and will have to relive his days in Washington when he would get into James’ head time and time again. Jason Kidd’s defense of Kobe Bryant in round 2 was nothing short of amazing. Kidd will be called upon at times to defend Wade and he must stay up in Wade and be physical with him. Offensively the talented Mavericks bench is going to have to continue to produce big numbers. Jason Terry, Jose Juan Barea, Peja Stojakovic, and possibly Caron Butler have to be instant offense. I’m confident that Terry will produce, Barea and Stojakovic must not fold under the pressure of the Finals. Barea is a tough kid who I believe will use the pick and roll and have a huge series. It is critical that Peja’s 3-point shot is falling, to stretch Miami’s defense so that they cannot pack the defense in on Dirk Nowitzki or gamble in the passing lanes. Dallas’ bench have been consistent all playoffs long and I don’t expect that to change. They are a veteran group who will not fold. Lastly, Superstar Dirk Nowitzki has to shine brighter than any other superstar in these Finals. Dirk has not only cemented himself as maybe the 2nd best in the game today, but as truly one of the greats. Nowtizki must continue his greatness in the Finals and Win Finals MVP. Nobody on the Heat roster, besides maybe LeBron James can come close to checking Nowitzki. Even with LeBron on him, Dirk will be able to shoot over him at will. Nowitzki must continue his crusade if he wishes to host a Dallas parade.
It is time for dessert! A parade down South Beach is what Miami’s Big 3 envisioned when they decided to join forces last summer. They are four wins away from that vision. It is simple for Miami. In order to get those four wins they must continue their dominance on the defensive end of the floor, the super trio must carry the offensive load, LeBron James must have a Finals series like DWayne Wade had in 2006. In the first three rounds Miami’s defense have suffocated their opponents and forced them into submission. They are in for a much tougher task against Dallas’ potent offense. LeBron James and DWayne Wade must dominate the wings and make everything tough for Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and JJ Barea. Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh have to be disruptive down low and get Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler into early foul trouble. I think Miami is going to have James and Bosh split time on Nowitzki. Both defenders are going to have to be physical and keep Dirk out of the post and force him to shoot jump shots. I know Dirk is such a great shooter but he has gone to more of a middle in attack this season. If Miami can force Dirk to resort back to the old Dirk and shoot a lot of threes they will be sitting pretty. Udonis Haslem who was a huge factor against Chicago, may also defend Nowitzki. The only thing Haslem can do on Dirk is be physical. He must rough Dirk up a little bit. Dallas has a bench that Miami hasn’t seen these playoffs so Miami must account for them as well defensively. As I stated earlier, Dallas will look to limit at least one member of the Miami big 3 a game. Even if a member of the big 3 struggles, Miami has been able to pull games out because they have played teams who go into offensive droughts. Dallas doesn’t have those droughts so it is imperative that Lebron James, DWayne Wade, and Chris Bosh come to play every single night. They each must dominates their matchups on the offensive end. I know LeBron will, it is up to Wade and Bosh to do the same. LeBron James, the best player in the world, The King, must have an all time series. James is going to have to average close to a triple-double while also being the best defender on the floor. I will never ever again question LeBron’s abilities or his heart. This postseason the kid have proven me wrong over and over again. He is determined and hungry, but are the Mavericks even hungrier? This is the King’s moment, will he seize it?
Now it’s time for me to make a DECISION! Having home court advantage is huge for Miami if the series goes seven games, and if Dallas is to win it would have to be in six. I’ve been going back and forth and purposely waited until the last possible moment to make my decision as I didn’t want to regret it. With that said I am comfortable with my decision. This summer the Larry O’Brien Trophy will be taking all it’s glory and prestige to…The Lone Star State as the Dallas Mavericks will win the NBA Championship.