SLAM 2011 Finals Picks
Our writers and editors make some predictions.
By now, you’ve probably been inundated with so much Finals coverage that you’re ready for the damn thing to start already. And if you are still perusing for last-minute reading material, chances are you’re only looking for a simple answer to a simple question: “Who the hell is going to win?”
Well, here’s your answer, or as close to one as we could possibly provide. SLAM tallied a handful of our own writers and editors to get their take on the 2011 NBA Finals, and below are those predictions.
But we also want to know who you’ve got, so let us know in the comments who you’re going with and why. And be sure to check back in to SLAMonline tonight, when Lang will be liveblogging the madness straight from American Airlines Arena. Like we always do at this time.
Ben Osborne: Heat in 6 (winning games 1, 3, 5 + 6)
I think homecourt will be a factor, I think Miami will play better team defense than the teams Dallas beat to get here, and most of all, I have never seen LeBron James (easily the best player in the world) playing with so much confidence. I don’t see him being stopped this year.
Susan Price: Heat in 5
Ugh. I don’t like the Miami Heat. I grew up a Knicks fan, so we have a little history. But that history has nothing to do with my wish for them to lose. I think LeBron’s a great player, blah blah blah, but I still can’t get last summer’s debacle of a decision out of my head. And so I don’t want Miami to win just for that. Childish? Maybe. Immature? Maybe. But we all know how we (sports fans) can make any ridiculous reasoning make sense. I want the Mavs to win. With the Lakers and Spurs out, this might be the best chance they get, ever. I just don’t think it’ll happen. I think LeBron morphed into some kind of wild, incredible hulk, beast dude at the end of the last game vs Chicago. I think that wild, incredible hulk, beast dude is going to carry his team to the title. Ugh.
Tzvi Twersky: Heat in 6
With all due admiration for Dallas’ incredible run—and I do mean incredible—LeBron is playing like he’s sick of visualizing how the crown might be. So assuming he doesn’t revert back to his sleep-walking ways of yesterPlayoffs, and assuming Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t do them like he did Serge Ibaka, look for James and Co. to be hosting a party on Collins Avenue in a few weeks. Either way, enjoy every last second of these Finals. With a lockout looming, this could be the last NBA basketball played for a long minute.
Ryne Nelson: Mavs in 5
Call it a guess, a feeling, but the Mavs may well be capable of sending home the Heat with ease. Why? Because as nice as Miami’s postseason has been, Dirk Nowitzki is really hungry (see: demolitions of the champion Lakers and explosive Thunder). As solid as Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh have been, they won’t provide nearly enough extra juice to overshadow this well seasoned Dallas squad. Match-up problems abound for the Heat, and Dallas is finally no slouch on defense. Sure, it’s a only feeling, but most of the winner’s intangibles are in Dallas’ corner. Dirk now understands what title winners are made of… and he’s back to prove himself.
Adam Figman: Heat in 5
As far as I can see, there aren’t nearly enough people talking about how crazy fast both of these teams are storming into the Finals. The Heat took only 10 games to knock out the Celtics and Bulls, while the Mavs pushed away the Lakers and Thunder in nine. Combined, against those four incredibly talented opponents, these two were 16-3. That’s unbelievable. And the two squads have a good habit going where they jump on top early, weather the return fire with ease, and close out series without fail. (That’s been the format every round for these two, except the ECF.) So I see that happening again, and with the first two contests in Miami and LeBron James hungrier than ever, something tells me the Heat will pull through the same way: landing an early haymaker, brushing aside the jab back, and finishing with a strong uppercut. In five games. Maybe six, at most.
Franklyn Calle: Heat in 6
LeBron & Wade and Co. took paycuts last summer in order to get a chance at winning championships. And now just four wins away, I just can’t see them letting this one get away from them. Although I do see Dallas giving them a run for their money, after all the ups and down this Heat team went through this season, I just can’t see them folding at this point.
Sam Rubenstein: Heat in 6
This whole year has been about the Heat and their legions of haters. I feel like this is all set up for “King James claimed his throne, but at what cost?” whining, as people decide that he now has to prove he can do it without Wade. Dallas has looked unstoppable in the past, with Dirk peaking on his way to the Finals, on a team with athleticism and depth. For whatever reason (the refs cheating), it didn’t work out. The Heat have moved past their crunch time issues, and their rotation is NBA-caliber now, and all of the denials made by Spoelstra and Bosh and this talk of a “process” turned out to be actual wisdom. Miami gets its title but it’s not convincing enough for some, and people make excuses like “Wake me up when they’re a dynasty.”
Vincent Thomas: Heat in 6
I want to say Dallas because they have players that deserve a ring (Dirk, Kidd); but Miami is defying historical arches and proverbial karma. They have rewritten so much and blown up tradition. Keep going.
Khalid Salaam: Heat in 6
The Heat’s success trajectory has been strongly enhanced by the return of Udonis Haslem, enough so that Miami’s rebounding deficiencies isn’t the Achilles heel that I initially envisioned. Granted, I’m not saying rebounding will be a strength against the Mavs, just not a weakness. With that no longer holding them back I think their perimeter defense and late game maneuvering by DWade and LBJ will eventually put them over the top.
Eldon Khorshidi: Heat in 6
You would be insane to pick against a team that just went a combined 8-1 against the Thunder and Lakers, and is on one of those ‘destined’ runs. But the Dallas Mavericks aren’t facing a regular NBA team…they’re facing the Miami Heat.
When your best player (choose LeBron or Wade) is, at worst, just as good as your opponent’s best player, and your second best player (choose LeBron or Wade) is just as good as your opponent’s best player, the scale tips over. Throw in your third best player, Chris Bosh, who is better than your opponent’s second best player and can drop 30 on any single cover in the League, and it becomes overwhelming. All year we’ve heard what the Miami Heat lack, and what they can’t do, and how it’s not their time yet. Face it: The Miami Heat are a real team, with real players, with a real chance to win the title. All the articles, storylines and imaginary roadblocks meant nothing. Rachel Nichols reporting from their locker room means nothing. When dissecting a simple game, all that’s necessary is simple logic. I wouldn’t mind Dirk stealing this series and getting his ice since Miami is forecasted to win like four of the next six, but star power and defense win championships, and that’s exactly what the doctor prescribed for Miami. In the NBA, reality suppresses imagination. Unless the imagination is reality. Imagine LeBron, Wade, and Bosh on the same team… oh wait.
David Cassilo: Mavs in 6
The Heat have silenced all the haters with a trip to the NBA Finals, but that doesn’t mean the trophy is theirs. Miami still has just three consistent scoring options and will need Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller to continue to step up to have a chance to win. While the Dallas offense goes through Dirk Nowitzki, he has a stable full of savvy veterans that help spread the floor and will keep the Miami defense honest.
The Mavericks have been the NBA’s best team all postseason, and that will continue. Could Miami have swept Los Angeles? Not likely. In the end, Dallas’ depth will be the reason it gets revenge for Miami’s 2006 triumph.