In true fairytale fashion, the NBA Finals will pit two teams who last arrived in this same position 5 years ago, when they also met – who else, but each other. In 2006, Dallas took a 2-0 lead and was heading for victory in Game 3 when the epic collapse happened. Dirk and Co. never recovered and the Mavericks wilted in the next 4 games to give the Championship to Wade’s Heat.
Fast-forward to the present, Wade has recruited two other superstars in LeBron James and Chris Bosh to help them cement themselves as a legacy for years to come. Dallas only features two stalwarts from their 2006 ‘epic fail’ in Dirk and Jason Terry. Since then, they have built their team around a host of veterans in Kidd, Stojakovic and Marion who have all come close but have never won the coveted ring. They even brought onboard a coach in Rick Carlise who has also been to the Finals twice but again fell at the final hurdle.
In the Eastern conference Finals, the Heat’s big trio proved too much for league MVP Derrick Rose to handle, and proved too dominant in manhandling the Bulls 4-1. Bosh was the surprise star for at least two of the 5 games, and it remains to be seen if Chandler can handle his hot form in the Finals.
It was the familiar story in the West when Dallas once again relied to Dirk Nowitzki to carry them into the finals. After exploding for 48 points in Game 1 where he only took 15 shots and made 12 (talk about efficiency), Dirk continued to relish in the Mr Clutch tag by scoring in double digits in the 4Q of all 5 games! The series clincher perhaps was the “5 minute miracle” in Game 4 when Dallas rallied back from 15 points in the final 5 minutes to beat OKC and take a 3-1 lead back home.
Whilst Dallas has an impressive record against Miami overall, this matchup would simply be intense based on the fact that both teams are the hottest heading into the Finals. Both teams have posted a near-excellent 12-3 post season records and both teams have managed to transfer their league leading road form into the playoffs. With Games 1 & 2 to be played in Miami, Dallas would have to steal one of these to stand any chance. In the history of NBA Finals, the team hosting Games 3-5 have never held home court before, and with Miami’s impressive road form, the Mavs would more than likely to drop one here, which means they would have to clinch the Championship on Miami soil – either in Game 6 or 7.
I’m boldly predicting this one to be a classic. LeBron and Dirk would typically cancel each other out. So I figured the key to the series would be how deep the bench is if the series is going to be a long one. Kidd and Barea may own the matchup at point guard but it is in the positions of shooting guard that the Heat have Wade. Miami can clinch it with a short series, but Dallas will have a chance if they can wear down Miami’s all-star trio with their ever-reliable bench. With that, I see the Mavericks redeeming themselves from the ghosts of 2006 with a tense 4-3 victory. Game 1 starts TODAY (US time). Woo Hoo!
Playoff Prediction Record:
Playoff Prediction Stats for Conference Finals: 2/2 (100%); Dead-on: 1/2 (50%)
Overall: 11/14 (79%); Dead-on: 3/14 (21%)