I truly thought the CHICAGO BULLS could overcome the MIAMI HEAT’S three-headed monster in the East Finals by relying on their defense to carry the day but when it comes down to it, you need guys who can create off the dribble and the Heat have more of them than the Bulls. Especially since both defenses were stellar. LEBRON’S defense on Rose down the stretch in that series was huge and is a key reason why Miami is in the Finals.
The DALLAS MAVERICKS did exactly what I expected them to do in the West Finals: Overwhelm OKC with their experience and defense. I just thought it would take six games, not five. Dallas has shown remarkable resiliency during these playoffs overcoming huge deficits to win games. Owner MARK CUBAN proclaimed that DIRK NOWITZKI and his Mavs aren’t done yet…winning the West is only the preclude to a title. It’s hard to argue with that.
2011 NBA FINALS
Miami Heat (58-24) vs. Dallas Mavericks (57-25): When these two teams met for the title in 2006, Dallas was clearly the favorite with the edge in talent, youth and depth. But toughness was not on the Mavericks menu and Miami took full advantage of that and won the series in six games. This time around, Dallas has the toughness, the experience and the depth. But Miami has two of the top five best players in the world and a third who’s not far behind in stature. For whatever it’s worth (or even means), the Heat have the home court this time around. Dallas had it in 2006.
For Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and Shawn Marion, this Finals series may well be their last chance at ‘chip status and they know it. All four guys must bring it this series if they are to be crowned champion. For Marion, his defense on LeBron will be key. Kidd has an experience (and height) advantage over Mario Chalmers and Mike Bibby and must exploit it. Dirk and the Jet must provide the bulk of the scoring against a stingy Heat defense.
For the Heat, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade must continue their superstar play, creating off the dribble, in transition and supplying their stifling defense on the perimeter. If Chris Bosh continues to add to that as he has been doing of late, it will be difficult to beat the Heat. The return of Udonis Haslem from injury has been key for Miami.
PICK: Dallas’s bench must outplay the reserves for the Heat. That is a must if Dallas wants to win this Finals match-up. A split in Miami during the first two games will be key. Both defenses are stellar but the Mavs have a more potent offensive arsenal than Miami. The Heat rely heavily on their big three, so if Marion can limit James’s effectiveness, that could tip the scales to Dallas. I look for Tyson Chandler to offset Haslem’s dirty work in the post and J-Kidd to control tempo in the series. Dirk and LeBron are both on a mission but I think Nowitzki gets the “mission accomplished” stamp on his dossier this time around. Mavericks in 6