Is LeBron really the best player in NBA history? Who knows, he still potentially has a decade left until he retires. Choosing to live in the here and now I am more excited about this NBA Finals matchup! I know this pains the hyperbolic sports media, but they should really be dissecting the Heat-Mavericks rematch because this could be a better series than the beloved Lakers-Celtics finals of the past few seasons.
Better? How, these are the two most storied franchises in league history? So, who cares about a franchise’s pedigree? I am waiting to watch the two clearly best teams in the postseason meet in the finals. This is the Big Three experiment vs. the Big German and the Gang. This is a rematch of the 2006 finals in which Dwyane Wade brought his team back from 0-2 with one of the most dominant finals performances ever! This is a Mavericks team that finally appears to have the right mix of shooters, defenders, and veteran intelligence to win the championship and finally put an end to that choker reputation.
From the onset I am curious to see which team can control the terms of the game. If the Dallas Mavericks can, then the deep roster of shooters will be spreading the floor with four guys who knock down the three point shot. If the Heat can, then the Mavs will be forced to play just three shooters at a time with two offensive liabilities.
To me, this is a rare chance to see two coaches dictate just who is going to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. I have no doubt that Dirk and LeBron are going to get their points and dominate on their offensive end of the court. This means it is up to Rick Carlisle and Eric Spoelstra to devise a team defense to shut down the rest of the opposition.
Apart from the two previously mentioned stars, each team has a single player to worry about. The Mavericks have to be concerned about Dwyane Wade. He has stepped aside at times in the 2011 postseason, letting LeBron make a run at the postseason MVP. Yet, he has also smoked the Boston Celtics. Now, the Celtics actually had a guy who could defend him, while Dallas does not. The options are Jason Kidd, JJ Barea, and DeShawn Stevenson, or too old, too small, and too bad. The best bet has to be Kidd. He is much slower than he used to be and has never really been a great individual defender, but he has the wisdom to frustrate Wade and the size to challenge Wade as he tries to post after his jumper fails to connect.
The player Miami should fear is far less sexy a name than Wade. Jose Juan Barea has been the game changer when he can penetrate and his ridiculous scoop shot is able to float over the outstretched arms of the seven footers around him and lightly kisses the very top of the backboard, gently falling through the cylinder. He is not an all star and will never be much more than a hero for those sub-six foot street ballers and gym rats, but he is quick enough to take both Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers off the dribble. Then, it is not his scoring, but his ability to throw a pass to the outside once the defense collapses that could be the downfall for the Heat.
Of course, everyone will be focusing on Dirk and LeBron instead since this is a league built on the superstars. That matchup could be interesting because the two players might actually be playing each other directly. Spoekstra spoke about using James on Dirk. James outplayed Rose and Pierce and could cement his status as an all-universe defender if he is able to throw the Big German off his game. Nowitzki has struggled against smaller athletic defenders who have the length and strength to pester him. LeBron could take it one step further and actually stop him since he is a genetic freak and may have the physical gifts to match Dirk’s uncanny athleticism.
So, really the NBA and the media should be moving on from the pre-coronation talks with King James and begin talking about just how phenomenal of a series this is theoretically shaping up to be.
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