The 2011 NBA Finals begins tonight on ABC with the Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat taking on the Western Conference Champion Dallas Mavericks. It’s a re-match of the 2006 series that the Heat won behind an MVP performance from guard Dwyane Wade as Miami won four straight in that series, including a couple thrilling comebacks in South Beach.
Both teams are a little different this time with LeBron James and Chris Bosh joining D-Wade (a.k.a. Flash) in Miami, while Dallas’ only two holdovers from that squad five years ago are All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki and guard Jason Terry. One thing is sure and that is a Hall-of-Famer will win his first ring – either LeBron with the Heat or Dirk or even Jason Kidd with the Mavs.
Key to the Series – - Rebounding and bench play. Bosh and Dallas’ Tyson Chandler may very well cancel each other out inside and on the glass, but a possible x-factor for the Heat could be a guy that gave them a lift in the series vs. the Bulls in the East Finals and that is power forward Udonis Haslem, who provided toughness and played terrific in their close-out Game 6 in the Finals back in ‘06.
For Dallas, they have been hitting a bunch of 3’s in these playoffs and need to stay hot from the outside with Terry and reserve Peja Stojakovic, who was a key member of the Sacramento Kings teams that came up short to the Lakers in the West during the early 2000’s. Peja and point guard J.J. Barea can give Dallas a major lift off the bench and that be a factor in this series. For the Heat, they’ll turn to the likes of Mike Miller and James Jones to knock down open shots when Wade and James penetrate.
In the End – Miami has too much athleticism, transition game and they have two guys at the end of the game that can beat you and more importantly break you down off the dribble in Wade and James, getting to the cup as well as the free-throw line. Dallas on the other hand has to depend on Nowitzki to make their big shots most likely, and while Terry and Kidd, neither are as consistent or reliable as that #2 option as what Miami has with in all honesty two go-to guys.
Pick – Miami in 6
Finals MVP – Dwyane Wade