It is all set. The Dallas Mavericks will once again do battle with the Miami Heat for the title. The two teams meet previously in 2006, where the Heat won the series 4 games to 2. Very few players remain from that battle. Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem remain from the championship Heat while Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry were on that Mavs squad. These are different teams and this is a different year.
Both teams have pressure to win. The Heat, with their much hyped pre-season acquisitions, have placed the target on their own backs. They are the ones who professed that only a title would mean success. LeBron James and Chris Bosh both have said that they came to South Beach in order to win mulitple titles and took less money to do so.
The Mavs are looking to win their first championship, to finally get the monkey off their back. All of the success that the Mavs had, 11 straight 50 win seasons and playoff seasons are always followed with a “yeah but…” Never mind the fact that their run has coincided with great Laker and Spurs teams. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd both want to capture a title to validate their greatness and to once and for all settle any question as to their place in NBA history.
This series looks to be a dream matchup. Superstar players. Larger than life owners (Mark Cuban and the legendary Pat Riley). Big markets. Two teams that can score a lot of points. Fan bases hungry for a win. The Heat – the villans everyone loves to hate. The Mavs – a team that everyone wants to see win the title (you know you do).
This should be a close series. Both teams could win it. Who will? I think the answer to that question will depend upon on several factors. First, can the Heat stop Nowitzki? Will Lebron be put on Dirty? If so, can he do what no one else has been able to do and slow the big man down? If anyone can, James would appear to be the one guy who could. He has the size, athletic ability, and desire. If James can, the Mavs are going to have to have some big production from the rest of the squad.
Second, can the Mavs capitalize on the mismatch at point guard. Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea should dominate Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers. Can Kidd hit enough shots to make them pay? Can Barea continue to cut and slash his way to the basket without a dominant big man in the paint?
Third, can Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood put up big points in the paint? Haslem is still not 100%. Dampier and Ilgauskas are not great defensively. The two big men must also guard the paint on the other side of the court, and not allow Wade and James to drive to the bucket and end up on the foul line. Chandler needs to be careful not to get into foul trouble as he has a tendency to do.
Fourth, can the Mavs play well enough on defense consistently? Will the zone be effective? Can they force turnovers while taking care of the basketball?
How these questions are answered will go a long way in determining the outcome of the series. Let’s hope the Mavs find the right answers and finally get to hoist the Championship trophy when the smoke clears. And as always, we will have you covered! Go Mavs!!!