Its here. After months of SuperFriends, super trades, silly trades and Blake Griffin sending Youtube into meltdown with his acrobatics, the NBA Finals is a little over 24 hours away. Representing the West and in the Blue corner you have the Dallas Mavericks. Flying the flag for the East and in the Red corner you have the Miami Heat, or the Heatles, or Miami 3:16, or Two and a Half Men or whatever other nickname you wanna call them (I personally like Two and a Half Men, one I made up just now and have copyrighted it already). This series is packed with so many intriguing storylines, and it all starts with 2006. Throw your mind back all those years ago, when the Mavericks were 2-0 up in the series, and 13 points up in game three. Then Gary Payton sunk that jumper with about 10 seconds left, and then Dirk missed a free throw to tie the game (that missed free throw is one of only 6 he has missed out of his last 4,978 free throws, or something like that). Miami would win game four, comfortably. Game five will be remembered for Dwyane Wade shooting as many free throws as the Dallas Mavericks did as a team combined, and also for Mark Cuban being fined a quarter of a million dollars for questioning what everybody else in the world questioned, the officiating. Miami won game six, and Dallas didn’t win a playoff series since. Until this year of course.
Miami did nothing of note really after that Championship run, pretty much lingering in purgatory until Dwyane Wade convinced LeBron and Chris Bosh to join him in South Beach. Now they’re players; real players. We’ve seen them evolve as a team and as a unit, and now Reilly’s (and Wade’s) plans and ideas are coming to fruition at just the right time. They’re healthy now; they understand their differences and work to hide them – as a unit. Granted, when they need a play its still either Lebron or Wade, but they’re a team now. They play defense so frightening it’s…well, frightening. LeBron and Wade hunt down the perimeter guys while Bosh and Haslem grab rebounds and box out. Miami have one of the scariest five man units available in the NBA right now – Wade, Miller, LeBron, Bosh and Haslem.
All are great rebounders at their respective spots, all are big bodies that can guard multiple spots and if their shots begin to fall its lights out. All can create matchup nightmares for opponents with their differing strengths, and this line up can score the crap out of a basketball. This five man unit can put a run together out of nowhere, something like a 23-6 spurt that blows a game wide open. Use Wade or LeBron as the point guard; have your other guys spotting up in their comfort zones and watch the magic happen. It’s scary how good that five-man unit could be in this series – let alone after a training camp together.
For either team to succeed, there are a few mandatory issues that need to be addressed. For Dallas, it’s all about how much of an advantage their bench can give them over that of the Heat. Can Jason Terry, JJ Barea and Peja Stojakovic come in and give meaningful minutes? Will Corey Brewer be able to help out guarding LeBron and Wade? For Dallas to stay ahead in this series, they need the JJ Barea from the end of the Los Angeles series and the start of the Oklahoma one. The guy who over a three game span scored 53 points in 59 minutes. The guy who left even Russell Westbrook on his heels when attacking the rim. If he outshines Chalmers, Dallas has an advantage. If Jason Terry can keep the Miami defense from collapsing on Dirk by continuing to shoot the lights out from deep, Dallas has a chance. Ditto for Peja. What Dallas lacks in athleticism and neck-breaking speed, they make up for it in poise, coolness and shooting ability.
Miami needs to do just one thing to win this series; let Dirk get his but don’t let anybody else get theirs. When Dallas wins, its because they have Dirk lighting it up and a sidekick assisting him. Keep the other guys quiet, you beat Dallas. The lone game they lost to the Thunder, Dirk had more points on his own than the Mavs other two leading scorers from that game (Kidd and Chandler) had combined. Because Miami has LeBron and Wade chasing down guys on the outside, there will be times when the can collapse on the big German and still contest the three; but I wouldn’t advise it. Let Bosh take Dirk, let Haslem have a crack off guarding him and if LeBron really wants to, unleash him on him also. I’m not saying any of these guys can keep Dirk from going for 30 on a give night, but they have different qualities that can annoy Nowitzki. Be it Bosh’s length, Haslem’s energy and grit or LeBron’s size, speed and power, Miami do have options when it comes to stopping the Mavs main man.
Dallas needs to keep shooting the three and needs Dirk to continue his hot streak. Miami needs to play the defense they played against Chicago and keep getting to the line at will. 2006 will be ringing fresh in the ears of Dallas; the boos and hatred will be deafening the Heat. It makes for a fascinating series, even if it will last just six games and result in everybody’s most hated team winning an NBA Title.
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Good for you, Mike Brown.
Well-played Houston also in hiring Kevin McHale.
A rumour surfaced regarding our Cavaliers and them pursuing the number two pick in the draft. I don’t believe this deal will happen for several reasons, but the second I got wind of this “deal” one thing struck me – it might not be the clear cut between Irving and Williams after all. To me, it is that clear cut; Kyrie Irving is the best player available. But maybe the Cavs aren’t so sure? Or maybe they just want these two young studs to be our future, our own version of Westbrook and Durant. Who knows, but it’s a damn shame we couldn’t pull it off.
I wonder will Mike Brown extend an olive branch to John Kuester to come join him in LA. They worked pretty well together in Cleveland; no reason why it couldn’t happen again.
Speaking of LA, how pissed do you think Kobe is that he wasn’t involved in the coaching search? When you consider Houston had Kevin Martin involved in their hunt, surely number 24 has some beef with the powers that be in LA for not letting him chime in.
To Mike Miller and his family; I’m happy for you all. No matter how much I hate your team, family is a different thing and to hear your girl is now home is a feel good story at a time when there are some horrible things going on in the world.
Photo via SI
Twitter @DOL17 and @StepienRules
Picked up on the prediction correct my friend, Miami in 6..But I'm major pissed at you Brendan - you stole the Thunder from my blog COMPLETELY with the picture of Dirk and Cuban, comedy gold..Nice finishing touch my man..
You pretty much nailed all key points in this preview bro. Oh and 2 and a half men? lol. That's a good thing you copyrighted that because I was about to steal that from you.
Amazing stat with regards to Barea, 53 points in 59 minutes. I agree he will be extremely critical. If they get that type of production, any lead the Heat starters build early is at risk. Especially if Terry comes with production as well.
Unfortunately I also agree with regards to how you laid out Miami's options in defending Dirk. Bosh, Haslem, James, as you mention all - on paper - have as good a shot at slowing him down or frustrating him as anybody DAL has faced so far in the playoffs.
Did I pick up the prediction you kinda slipped in there on the sneak btw? Miami in 6? Can't say I disagree. I'm done convincing myself somebody can beat this Heat team. They kinda are what we thought they'd be this summer when they rolled out two HOFers and a perennail All Star. Should be an interesting series tho, take a monumental effort from DAL in my opinion.