Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Finals Pick: Heat In Seven

The case for Dallas: Unlike anyone that Miami has played in the first three rounds, they can put five shooters on the floor at once. They have the cagiest point guard in the game, a solid bench with explosive scoring, and a proven coach with a lot of playoff experience. And most importantly, they have Dirk Nowitzki, who might be the best player in the game right now, and just got through a 5-game evisceration of the Thunder. Everything about them screams destiny, and there's nothing that they haven't done in the past six weeks that hasn't looked like a championship team. They also go into this matchup with depth in the wing defenders, a set rotation that knows its roles and provides quality defense at the rim, and three-point shooting that the Heat have not seen in this playoff. Finally, not like this mattered in the last two rounds, they have a winning record this year against Miami.

The case for Miami: They are playing the best defense in the world right now, and have, well LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. They've also gotten healthy in the playoff season, and now have a very functioning 8-man rotation, with Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. They also have home court advantage, which matters a lot with the dumb 2-3-2 schedule. Most importantly, they've been deadly in late and close situations, with James in particular going into Best Defender In The World Mode, with turnovers leading to back-breaking dunks and momentum swings for days. Like Dallas, they haven't done a thing in the past six weeks that hasn't screamed out Champion, with the possible exception of parting like it was 1999 after they took out the Celtics.

If Dallas wins, it will be because: Dirk was the best player on the floor. Jason Kidd owned his matchup. Shawn Marion continued his solid postseason, and the Tyson Chandler / Brendan Haywood tandem in the middle prevented second chance points and stopped a few drives to the basket. They will also need to make their threes; we know they will make their free throws.

If Miami wins, it will be because: James was the best player on the floor. Chris Bosh gave the Heat a fighting chance at a draw against Dirk. Haslem and Miller continued their climb back up from terrible play. Joel Anthony and Ziggy Ilgauskas (yes, he'll have a role here, if only to get Chandler away from the hoop) are effective. Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers match Kidd and JJ Barea's point output, which shouldn't be that hard, but is. And Erik Spoelstra continues to run hot at the table, with his faith in Haslem and Miller, and his willingness to get away from his season-long bigs in the Bulls series being the biggest example.

The pick: I've gone back and forth on this for a while. I don't see the Heat having anyone to guard Dirk, and their bench does seem better. I don't see Kidd turning into dust against the Heat pressure, and the fact that the Mavs can go super-small with him, Barea and Jason Terry might work well here, whereas going small killed the Sixers, Celtics and Bullets. After the 2006 experience, I don't see Wade getting every call, and like every other basketball writer on the planet, I don't believe in Bosh.

But in the final analysis, there's James, at the height of his powers and in a situation where he doesn't have to kill himself to keep his team close, in a situation where every aspect of The Decision gets vindicated in a Shut Your Mouth for the ages. I respect Dirk immensely; I think he's been the best player in the playoffs so far this year, and what he did to the Thunder bordered on inhuman. But in the final analysis, he can't shut down the opposing team's best scorer, doesn't have as much option for error in crunch time, and doesn't have the same high level of help when it comes to winning a game. Finally, the Heat have home court. They win one of the best series in recent memory, in seven games.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mavericks will be Heat’s worst nightmare. I’m on Heat and I just can’t wait to see the outcome on their clash on basketball warzone.

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