With the Miami Heat rallying to defeat the Bulls with a late 4th quarter onslaught, the matchup for this year's finals is now set. Both the Dallas Mavericks and Miami come into the series with a lot of momentum from their conference finals. The big question is who will be able to keep it going? In a clash of these two unstoppable forces I will breakdown the matchups position by position, and predict a winner based on other factors as well.
Despite being among the oldest players on their respective teams, both the Heat and Mavericks have two quality veteran point guards running the show in Kidd and Bibby. Kidd (on a side note a surefire hall of famer), however, has shown time and time again he can still make a huge impact without scoring the ball. In order for Kidd to be neutralized Bibby must play good man to man defense, and LeBron James and Dwayne Wade must be ball hawks on the perimeter so Kidd doesn't dissect the Miami defense. On the other hand, Bibby will try to not do too much with the ball. He is a solid passer and can shoot the 3 if necessary. The winner of this matchup goes to the Mavericks because of J.J. Barea. He makes up for all of the scoring that Kidd doesn't do in addition to bringing more athleticism. Barea is also playing the best basketball in his career, and he looks forward to keeping the momentum going. Chalmers in my opinion is strictly an afterthought until he develops more as a player:
Winner: Jason Kidd/J.J. Barea
Shooting Guard: Dwayne Wade vs. Deshawn Stevenson/Jason Terry
This group here can go bucket for bucket. Deshawn is an athletic slasher while Terry brings the range, and both are dangerous when they get hot. D-Wade gets the nod by a landslide though. He is just too good to be brought down by the Mavs, something evidenced by his 2006 finals performance (it was a completely different roster, but the concept is the same). I personally believe Wade is the best overall player on the Heat. He may not possess the freakish athleticism of Lebron or the 3 point range of James Jones. He is one of the smartest players I have ever seen to play the game. The Mavs will have their hands full with Wade, and they will pull out all the stops to prevent him from getting to the free throw line.
Winner: Dwayne Wade
Hands down LeBron wins out in this matchup. Superior strength, length, size, and athleticism alone give him the nod over the aging Marion and Stojakovic. In order for the Mavs to have ANY chance of containing LeBron, Marion must become The Matrix: Reloaded and play like he did in his glory days with the Suns. Blocks, steals, forcing turnovers, and making him force difficult jump shots are key to stopping James. All LeBron has to do is be LeBron, and make good decisions with the basketball and everything should be fine for him.
Winner: "King" James
Dirk is the clear winner here. He has more range than Bosh, a better ability to get to the line, and superior mental toughness. This is the best shot Nowitzki has at getting a ring, and he is going to make every opportunity count. Bosh will most likely blend in with the crowd in this series. Dirk has more drive than any player on either team, and will be surely disappointed if he comes away empty.
Winner: Dirka Dirka Nowitzki (maybe that could be his nickname after going all these years without one...)
It may seem insignificant as neither team has an all star caliber player at this position, but these little matchups can make or break the series. I am going with the Mavericks simply because they have better defensive awareness and stability along the front court. Joel Anthony is the only center on Miami who will play solid minutes, and who knows if Magloire or Zydrunas Ilgauskas are even going to play at all?
My Dark horse breakout player: Roddy Beaubois, Dallas guard.
Beaubois is instant offense off the bench and could be the key to starting a Mavericks run if Dirk or Barea are having trouble knocking down shots. Also is a great penetrator and can get to the line with ease despite his smaller stature.
Prediction: Mavericks in 7
My reasoning is that they are overall a more complete team than Miami. I believe it could easily go to game 7, where the team who wants it more will win. Kidd and Dirk both want rings to make their legacy never forgotten. Dirk is a top 10 power forward of all time and Kidd is a top 10 point guard. They would punch their tickets to the hall of fame if they win (even though they're both going there already). As for the Heat, it will be a real test of how they perform as a team instead of having 2 superstars pulling the load. In the end, the Mavericks will want it more, and that could very easily decide who will win the series. Who wants it more? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Just for fun, let's take a look back.