This is the series for it all. A rematch of the two teams from the 2006 Finals where the Heat won their first NBA Championship. The difference this year is that these two teams are much different than the two teams that were there in 2006. The Heat have the '3 Amigos' and this Dirk may not be beatable with the team around him. Let's take a look at each team and I'll let you know who I'm riding with in this series.
Like I said, this Dirk may not be beatable. Nowitzki has been on fire and he has a team with him. Jason Kidd is reminding us that he was better than what he is now and he is playing that well right now. Tyson Chandler has become the 'KG' of this Mavs team with not only his defense but the heart and soul of the team. Jason Terry has played the role that was important for this team to win. He could definitely be a starter for this team but is happy with coming off the bench and being their spark. Throw in Shawn Marion (formerly known as the Matrix), Brendan Haywood (uggh), JJ Barea (their version of the Microwave) and you have a Mavs team that is pretty solid. But it all comes down to Dirk. He has the game and he's unorthodox enough to make guys feel bad when he's hitting his shots. I do wonder how he was able to go to the line 61 times in a 5 game series against the Thunder. Is this the year for the Mavericks? Will we have to watch awkwardly as Mark Cuban celebrates a title?
This is what all the hoopla was for, a chance at getting #2 for Wade and the organization and for LBJ to get his first so that he can be on his way to catching Jordan (had to throw this in, watch for a future article). The Heat beat a very sound Bulls team and each member of the big three, with the exception of D Wade, performed great. I've said this before, D Wade played the worst series that I've seen him play in a long time and they still won. He's got to step up in this series for the Heat to win. Bosh has quietly reminded people that he can play and that 20 and 10 average isn't just all about garbage time. Mike Bibby and Chalmers are starting to play better, and hopefully Mike Miller can play better now that his daughter is out of the hospital and at home doing well. You know that if the Heat win, people are just going to be that much more pissed?
Mavericks - Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion. Yes, I put Dirk down as an x-factor simply because he's been playing so great, I'm waiting for the let down. The Heat are a good defensive team and will give him problems while rotating 3 or 4 guys on him (Haslem, Bosh, LBJ, etc.). He's going to have to play as great as he has this entire playoffs if they have hopes of being the new king in town. With all of the energy and effort concentrated on Dirk, Terry's going to have to play lights out. He'll be going against the Heat's bench so he'll have opportunities to light it up. The Heat really have no one to match up with Chandler. He's big, mobile, and has a bit of a mean streak in him. Chandler has to stay active and keep from picking up silly fouls. Oh, did I mention that he's going to have to protect that paint? Shawn Marion will be the main person guarding LBJ and he's long enough and quick enough to cause some problems. As long as they keep LBJ on the perimeter, the Mavs are cooking with grease.
Heat - Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, the Heat bigs, and Bibby/Chalmers. Wade has got to step up his game and when he sees Stevenson in front of him he's got to make the Mavs pay. Chris Bosh is going to start on Dirk and will need to cause him problems with his size. Bosh is quick enough to guard him on the perimeter so I expect that Dirk will post him up repeatedly. Bosh has got to play solid defense, but he's got to go at Dirk on offense. Dirk has never been mistaken as a defensive stalwart, so make him play you. The Heat bigs are going to get their chance guarding Dirk, so the key is to make it tough for him. He's going to hit shots, but make them tough shots. For the Heat point guards, they are going to have to hit shots. I expect the Mavs to go a lot of zone in this series to test the Heat outside shooting. When JJ Barea gets in the game, I don't care if you've never had a day working in the post, but someone should post him up, every play.
Prediction: This should be a good series. You got a lot of guys chasing their first title (Kidd, Chandler, LBJ, Bosh, Bibby, Marion, etc.) and a lot of them are older so this may be their only opportunity. It's going to come down to one of them making some big plays and this is cliche, but who wants it more. I'm scheduling a trip to Miami to experience the madness that's going to happen when they win this series. Heat 4-2. (That's no worse than Terry getting the NBA Trophy tattooed on his arm.)
Ok, so who you got and why? Yes, the Mavericks can win this if Dirk stays on fire, but I'm going with the 'favorites'? You going to meet me in Miami?