NBA Finals match-up: who will prevail?
The NBA Finals start this Tuesday night in Miami between the Heat and Dallas Mavericks. Personally, I’m rooting for the Heat because I want LeBron James to win his first title; he’s long overdue. But can the King hold off red-hot Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks? Here are the match-ups:
1. Mike Bibby and Jason Kidd. In the two games the Heat and Mavericks played against each other this season, Bibby averaged 7.0 points per game and 2.7 assists per game. Bibby can shoot the three ball; he shot 41.7 percent from beyond the arc against the Mavericks. But the Heat need Bibby to be a better distributor of the ball and contribute more shots, especially when he’s open behind the arc. Against the Heat, Kidd only averaged 6.0 points per game, but Kidd makes his presence felt elsewhere. A great contributor and efficient rebounder, Kidd has been a well-rounded point guard for 17 seasons. In this match-up, Kidd will come out on top. And when Kidd’s on the bench, Bibby and his back-up, Mario Chalmers, will have to guard J.J. Barea, who has made a huge impact off the bench. Barea is quick, aggressive and scrappy coming up with big plays and big shots in the postseason. The Heat points guards have their work cut out for them in this series.
2. Chris Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki. Bosh and Nowitski have had big series littered with a couple quieter games during the postseason. Some have questioned Bosh’s playing and if he’s been a real factor, but his number’s against the Mavericks should prove he has been effective. This season, Bosh averaged 20.5 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game and 51.5 from the field versus Dallas during the regular season. But Nowitzki has been incredible during the postseason. He’s averaging 28.4 points per game and an astounding 92.9 percent from the free throw line. Nowitzki is a dangerous, multidimensional player that can drive, make the midrange jump shot (with an unstoppable turn around jumper), and make three pointers. Nowitzki’s ability to shoot outside will draw Bosh out of the key and create openings for other Maverick’s to drive the lane. The Heat will need to collapse on defense and help cover the paint when Bosh is preoccupied with Nowitzki. Bosh is great, but he does not have the variety of play that Nowitzki does. Nowitzki takes this match-up.
3. Joel Anthony and Tyson Chandler. Neither center has been dominant offensively during the regular season. Anthony and Chandler averaged 3.3 and 7.3 points per game respectively during the postseason. Anthony is in the Heat’s starting lineup for his defensive presence in the paint and for his determination on every play. Not to be outdone, Chandler made the NBA’s All-Defensive 2nd Team this season. The battle down low between Anthony and Chandler will be a defensive one and both are expected to make big stops during the finals. Anthony has a slight edge on Chandler averaging more blocks during the postseason (2.1 and 0.8 blocks per game, respectively), but Chandler has a few inches on Anthony. Based on his will and determination, Anthony edges out Chandler on this match-up, but only slightly.
4. Dwayne Wade and DeShawn Stevenson. I don’t need to post statistics to prove that Wade is an amazing player, but I will. Wade is averaging 23.7 points per game, 4.1 assists per game and 7.2 rebounds per game during the postseason. Add smothering and suffocating defense and Wade has been an all-around player in the playoffs. No offense to Stevenson, but I had never heard of him until the playoffs. His stats have been nearly nonexistent during the playoffs. Dwayne Wade is going to run circles around Stevenson. It’s hard to stop Wade, and I don’t think Stevenson has what it takes. Wade wins this match-up by a long shot.
5. LeBron James and Shawn Marion. The Mavericks are missing Caron Butler, one of their top scorers this season. Butler was also responsible for guarding the King during the Heat and Mavericks’ previous two meetings. Butler outscored LeBron in both games and held him to 30.6 percent shooting. Marion now has the job of stopping LeBron, and it’s going to be a big job. LeBron has been absolutely incredible during the regular season. He’s also been absolutely incredible during the postseason. He’s driven by the fact that he’s never won a ring. LeBron is averaging 26.0 points per game, 8.9 rebounds per game and 5.5 assists per game. He’s spectacular on defense and did a great job guarding guarding NBA MVP Derrick Rose in the previous round. Marion has been solid during the playoffs contributing 11.2 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game and 1.2 assists per game. I have always liked and respected Shawn Marion, but I do not think he can keep up with LeBron. The Dallas defense is going to have to help Stevenson and Marion with the dynamic duo. LeBron definitely takes this match-up.
Based on the match-ups, the Heat will win the NBA Finals. Mavericks’ Head Coach Rick Carlisle will mix up the match-ups over the first two games to create a more even match-up at the different positions. The Maverick’s have a slightly deeper bench than the Heat. Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic and J.J. Barea have been stellar off the bench and can all shoot from beyond the arc. Heat small forward James Jones was stellar in Game 1 of the Conference Finals against the Celtics, but he has been plagued by injury. The Heat miss his three-point shooting and lack a shooter off the bench that can match up with Terry, Stojakovic and Barea.
The other factors:
1. The Mavericks are 2-0 against the Heat this year. The Mavericks won the first game by 11 points and the second game by 2 points.
2. The Heat are 8-0 at home during the postseason. The Heat have defeated Philadelphia, defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics, and MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, which held the best record in the NBA.
3. Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James have made it to the NBA Finals, but neither have won a ring during their careers.
This series will be a great contest between two strong teams. But I think the Heat will take the series. The Mavericks can’t match up with the three-headed monster. The Mavericks should be proud. They swept the former champion Lakers and have stunned fans everywhere. Unfortunately, their road to the championship will end here.
(Statistics were found at http://espn.go.com/nba/)