It has slowly dawned on me that I am about to hate everything associated with the Miami Heat. That's what happens with your team's opponent in a series with these implications on the line. It's very easy to hate a team in the NBA. Everybody whines. Everybody flops. If there's a team that you want to hate, you will hate them. And I want to hate the Miami Heat. I've been on the fence with them throughout most of the season because I loved the intrigue they brought to the NBA's regular season. But the regular season is no longer. My hatred has slowly grown throughout the playoffs, with what I perceive as unearned knob-slobbing. But my hatred is nowhere near where it's about to be. I already cannot stand watching these little videos about them on ESPN, hearing them complain about how nobody likes them, sounding like a bunch of school boy bitches. I look forward to my hatred though. Cheering for the Heat was fun for a little while, but I doubt I'll ever be able to go back to rooting for them after this series. I find myself glad that fate intervened and forced my hatred for Miami Heat.
If you haven't kept up with me this week be sure to read my previous write ups before tonight's Game 1:
The Key to the Dallas Mavericks' Success
Top 10 Reasons to be Excited for NBA Finals
Why you should Root for Dirk and the Mavs
On to the series....
Lebron v. Dirk - Let me start by saying that Lebron will have to outplay Dirk for the Heat to win the NBA Championship. Dirk has more help around him and the Mavs could survive an off game from him more easily than the Heat could 'Bron. If the Heat decide to double Dirk, he won't put up big numbers because he'll simply look to pass out of it every time. The Heat will throw a number of bodies at him including Chris Bosh (who plays defense Like a Bosh), Udonis Randy Mosslem (had success in 2006), and yes, even Lebronius. I'm a tiny bit afraid that 'Bron will find success in defending Dirk. He's got the perfect body frame to do so. However, he can't guard him the whole game (he'd wear out), but if he finds success, you might see Lebron on Dirk at the ends of games (oh, what a sight). The Mavs will put Shawn Marion on 'Bron for starters, but they will throw a number of different looks at him. The Mavs play more zone than anybody in the NBA (expect a lot of it), and at the end of the Thunder series actually had Kidd (who leads the NBA Playoffs in steals) guarding Durant, while Marion took Westbrook (never would've guessed that to begin with). The two stars very well could decide this series, but I think it's 'Bron who is the bigger deciding factor for his team (see how I just took all the pressure off Dirk there?).
Mavs' biggest problem - If the Miami Heat go small. If 'Bron finds success covering Dirk on the defensive end, the Heat will have the option to play him at the 4 spot, which creates mega matchup problems for the Mavs (Dirk ain't covering Lebron - side note - have we ever established if the B in Lebron is supposed to be capitalized?). They'd be forced to take Tyson Chandler out of the game, and when that happened against the Thunder, they scored on a number of easy shots. Dirk would be forced to cover Bosh (a mismatch in itself), and the Mavs would be without their defensive intimidator (Dirk cannot protect the rim or rebound well enough). Hopefully, Eric Spoelstra isn't smart enough to see this, or I'm wrong in my prediction, but keep an eye out for the Heat going small in this series.
Heat's biggest problem - JJ Barea. I'm 97% convinced that it's nearly impossible to shut down Barea on his offensive end. The way you take him out of the game is by capitalizing on his defensive short-comings (pun alert). If a guard has any sort of a post game, he will simply abuse The Streakin' Rican. However, the Heat's options at point guard don't pose much of a threat. Neither Mario Chalmers or Mike Bibby have any kind a post game. I'm expecting to see a lot of Barea in this series (also a lot of DeShawn Stevenson, who held DWade to 2 points in 30 minutes in the regular season. Although, I don't think this is a good series for Peja Stojanky Nuts, who cannot keep up with Wade or Bron). I do believe Barea has an outside shot at Finals MVP (rare enough, that I can't even get betting odds on it).
Heat strategery - Run Lola, run. The Heat have a decided advantage in team speed and overall athleticism. If the game turns into an up and down game, that strongly favors the younger Heat, considering they have two of the best transition players to ever play the game (Chalmers and Mike Miller, of course). Although, the Mavs have played a pretty up tempo game so far in these playoffs, so it'll be interesting to see if they purposely try and slow the game down.
Mavs strategery - Offensive efficiency. There has been a lot of talk about the defense of the Miami Heat, but they have yet to face an offense as versatile and effective as the Dirks. The Mavs pride themselves on always getting good shots, which begins and ends with Jason Kidd (literally because he's become such a good jump shooter out of nowhere). If they decide to double Dirk, he will look to pass out of it every time, most likely leading to a 3 point bomb from one of their many snipers - and the list is long - Terry, Barea, Kidd, Stojanky, hopefully not DeShawn.
Dwyane Wade - DWizzly looked very pedestrian in the Eastern Conference finals. If he puts up anything like that in these NBA Finals, the Heat will be toast. The Mavs will put up much more on the offensive end than the Bulls, and the Heat will need to counter that with 2 of their 3 studs putting up big numbers every game. If only 1 of them goes off, the Mavs will win. And if D-Wade doesn't put up big numbers, that puts all the pressure on Chris Bosh's shoulders, exactly where the Dirkness wants it.
Rebounding - The most telling stat in Basketball for me. If you control the boards, most of the time you'll control the game. You'd think the Heat would struggle in this category (or atleast I did) without a true center, but they actually rank better than the Mavs in these playoffs. Most likely, it is because they rebound well from the guard positions. The tide turned for the Heat after Game 1 against the Bulls, when they were able to even the rebounding, and thus, dominate the series. The Mavs have actually been out-rebounded so far in these playoffs. I literally just said this, but it bears repeating, whoever controls the boards will control these games.
PreDirktion - Gee, who ya think I'm going with here? I'm gonna believe what I've seen throughout these playoffs though - that nobody has looked better than the Dallas Mavericks. While watching both conference finals seriesi, I constantly remarked to anybody that would listen (thank you, Twitter) that the Mavs looked far superior to both the Heat and the Bulls. Barring a complete and utter dominating performance out of Lebron (which is about 25% possible), I'm taking the Mavs in a breeze. I think Dirk is on an absolute mission, and everybody on his team would literally go to war with him right now (good thing we're not in the 1940's). I believe the Heat are a bit full of themselves after marching through the weaker Eastern Conference, and won't be prepared for what they're about to run into. Unlike 2006, I believe this Mavs team has the necessary killer instinct to drive the stake into the heart. And they will.
Dallas Mavericks over Miami Heat in 5