“Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven … Ay and when I say that, and when I say that, I really believe it. I’m not just up here blowing smoke at none of these fans, um because that’s not what I’m about, I’m about business, and we believe we can win multiple championships if we take care of business and do it the right way.” -LeBron James
It is really difficult to fully appreciate what these teams have done this season. The Heat ran through the two best teams in the Eastern Conference in ten games. While the Celtics weren’t “who we thought they were,” and the Bulls were young and inexperience, the naysayers still wouldn’t have predicted the Heat making quick work of the competition. The Mavs managed to beat a Portland team that many had them losing against. They then went on the road and took two games form the defending world champions, on their way to a shocking sweep. Ending their, most impressive, playoff run with two magnificent comebacks against OKC.
Dallas looks incredible. They are great at sharing the ball, getting into their offense, and penetrating off pick and rolls. Beyond that, their depth, resilience, and composure late in games have a lot of people wondering if this team can be defeated. Quiet frankly, if they shoot the ball the way they did against the Lakers, they will win the championship.
In light of this, I’m hedging against seeing the Mavs pull off one of the greatest team shooting performances in recent history, AGAIN. While this is not a strictly jump shooting team (like Orlando), the Mavs get a lot of production from double team kick-outs and penetration kick-outs for open jumpers. To that point, I don’t think the Mavs have played as good of a defensive team (especially in terms of rotation and recovery) as the Heat. The Heat will recover, close out, and force the Mavs to make contested jump shots.
Which brings me to Dirk. He is the one player on the Mavs that doesn’t need to benefit from anyone else on the court (Jet maybe the other one, but Marion wont be able to post up ‘Bron in the box). Unlike most everyone in the world, I actually think Bosh can do a serviceable job on Dirk. Having said that, I don’t see him checking Dirk in the first half, for fear of getting into foul trouble. So look for a steady dose of Anthony and Haslem on Dirk early and Bosh/ ‘Bron (in the fourth) late in games. Main reason I think Bosh will be serviceable against Dirk is because of his lateral speed. This should limit Dirk to shooting jumpers and fadeaways (which Bosh has no chance against). If Dirk is going off from the perimeter the Heat will live with it and lock down the rest of the team. Also, when ‘Bron checks Dirk I see him holding him to the perimeter as well, but doing a better job contesting (LeBron can cheat up on Dirk, closing the space between the two, thus allowing for a better contest).
On the other side of the ball, don’t be surprised if Miami goes at Dirk. If Dirk checks Anthony or Haslem, look for screen and rolls with ‘Bron to force Dallas into choosing between Dirk v. ‘Bron, or open lanes. If he checks Bosh, look for Bosh to drive past him or hit open jumpers (while Dirk cheats off). Im also not sure who will check Wade, but I suspect this will be an advantage for Miami. Finally, look for Mike Miller to do work on the boards and hitting timely shots. He has struggle from the field all year, but has been a solid perimeter rebounder. It isn’t always about who has the “better” bench, it’s usually about match-ups, defense, and closing. Lastly, the one negative I can point out about the Mavs (which could be a positive depending on how one looks at it) they have comeback late in a lot of games this post season. Because of their composure, resilience, AND ability to get stops, they won games they had no business winning. It won’t be as easy for them to do this when there are two, some times three, players on the opposing team that can hold serve or win games late.
While I’ll be rooting for the Mavs in 6… Give me the Heat.
Heat in 6.
I think the Mavericks are going to win this series. Why: Honestly? Because I hate the Heat and really want them to lose. To be frank, I have no idea who’s going to win the finals. On the one hand, the Mavs have been able to maximize Dirk Nowitzki’s talents, surround him with the right players, the right combination of veterans and youngsters, and are peaking at the right time. They’ve looked unstoppable during the playoffs. On the other, the Heat have silenced all of their critics, becoming one of the best defensive teams in the league. They have two of the best players in the league and somebody finally woke up Chris Bosh. It’s fair to say I have no idea who’s going to win, but I hope the Mavs do. Like everybody else, I hated what the Heat did last year before the season started. I hated Lebron and D-Wade teaming up together. I hated the sudden outcropping of Miami Heat fans everywhere (seriously, most of South Beach couldn’t name three players on last year’s team). So yes, I hope the Mavs win.
Miami X-Factor: Chris Bosh. This series depends on Chris Bosh’s ability to take over the game like he did against the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. Lebron and Wade are not enough to win four games by themselves. They need Chris Bosh to step up and be dominant.
Dallas X-Factor: Peja Stojakavich. The Mavs have two advantages against the Heat: Dirk Nowitzki’s fade away is the most unguardable shot in the playoffs right now, and Dallas has a much better bench than Miami. This bench can turn around a game by making 3 point shots (it was Stojakavich and Terry who broke the Lakers spirit in Game 4). Jason Terry will bring it, he has a lot of confidence. The Mavs really need Stojakavich to rain threes all day on the Heat. With Terry and Stojakavich on the floor, the Heat will either double on Dirk and give those two free reign, or they’ll single cover Dirk and let him destroy their defense one-on-one. This will only work, however, if Stojakavich and Terry come to play.
Mavericks in 6.
Thus far, both Boston and Chicago have tried to out-muscle Chris Bosh. Everybody wants to tag him as soft and sensitive, most likely because he says he’s nervous after a crucial playoff game. But that’s not the way to guard him. The best way to guard Bosh is to treat him like any SF jump shooter; just put a hand in his face and don’t try exceptionally hard to block his driving lanes. For this reason, I think Dirk will have a great opportunity to neutralize him. Marion and Chandler will collectively force the ball out of Lebron’s hands in crucial situations in this series. This will force Wade to win games against lesser defenders (Stevenson and Terry). I’m saying this right now: Wade will choke in Game 7. He’ll shoot 2 for 7 in the fourth quarter and have 3 TO’s. The officiating will be pro-Dallas or neutral, which eliminates Wade’s ability to dominate games.
However, Dallas needs to hit their three’s. If the Mavs fail to take over the 3 point line like they have done throughout the playoffs, they’ll become too one-dimensional by relying on Dirk way too much and ultimately fold to Miami’s swarming defense and double-teams. Take the pressure off Dirk by letting him go one-on-one with Bron or Bosh, and he’ll finally earn his title.
Mavericks in 7.
This series will come down to the play of Dirk Nowitzki, and I think he’ll shine. Expect Dirk to shoot 50% from the field (including 3s) and not miss a free throw for the entire series. Add ~ 10 boards a game, and the Mavs will get it done, so long as a couple members from the supporting cast show up for each game.
Mavs in 6? More like Mavs in 5.
 Both these teams have only dropped three games to get to this point.
 Even after the chock job in Portland.
 Im interested to see how the “check him like Rose” plan will work in containing JJ.