Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks
- Season Series: 2-0 Dallas
- First Game: Tuesday 9 pm
- Series Odds: Miami -190
Breakdown: This year’s NBA Finals offers a great deal for both Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James. For LeBron, it’s a chance to finally quiet the critics and get that first ring. For Dirk, it’s a long awaited rematch after an embarrassing choke in 2006. It’s imperative that he come out on top this time around, though, as it will most likely be his final chance.
Both teams eliminated younger, inexperienced opponents during their trip to the Finals, and both have lost only three times this postseason, with the Mavs winning 10 of their past 11. Needless to say, the Heat and Mavs are two veteran squads playing some of their best basketball, meaning we shouldn’t see much of the late-game collapses that we did in the previous round.
There’s been a lot of talk about who’s going to guard Dirk and if it’s possible to stop, let alone slow the 7-footer. However, I have to say that I’m not as concerned about this as others seem to be. Miami is one of the best teams in the NBA in terms of rotating, helping and doubling on defense, and even if Dirk isn’t fazed by it, you can live with that. After all, it’s Dirk. What you can’t do is let the supporting cast beat you. My biggest concern is the same one I had in the Heat’s matchup with the Bulls: rebounding. They let Chicago average 14 offensive boards per game, something that cannot happen this series, when guys like Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic are camped on the perimeter. For that reason, expect Mike Millerto log more minutes and look to continue his recent stretch of relevancy (took him long enough, right?), as well as the other Gator, Udonis Haslem.
Dallas is obviously the deeper team here, but if you recall, the same was said of Chicago – they just didn’t stick around long enough to use it to their advantage. That said, the longer this series goes, the more in the Mavs’ favor it could get. The Big 3 could eventually wear down, particularly Dwyane Wade, who’s already banged up as it is. I won’t go as far as to say he’s lost a step, but I’ll admit that I’d be lying if I didn’t think he’s lost at least half a step, even if he is only 29. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a tremendous player, so it’s no knock. I’m just starting to wonder if that whole “fall down 7 times, stand up 8″ is catching up with him. To the die hard Wade fans, let the criticism begin!
X-Factor: Chris Bosh
When Bosh is on, the Heat are that much tougher to stop. You know that LeBron and Wade will get theirs, so having that third dimension show up will be key in this series. In the three Miami losses this postseason, Bosh was a non-factor in two of those games, averaging only 9 points and 5 boards. I also left out one important note: Bosh will have the luxury of guarding Dirk. The Heat have stated that they’ll give Dirk different looks, but Bosh will be there to start. If he’s not going to get it done on offense, he better be sure to make up for it on defense and on the glass. Twin Towers Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood will be there to make things difficult, as will the Mavs X-Factor, Shawn Marion (who will likely be on LeBron after doing a great job on Kevin Durant).