SLAM 2011 Finals Picks
Our writers and editors make some predictions.
Adam Sweeney: Mavs in 7
What happens when an immovable object slams heads on into an unstoppable force? The 2011 NBA Finals will answer the question. Even more so than last year’s Lakers-Celtics match-up, it’s incredibly challenging to decide who really has the upper hand in this series. LeBron, Wade and Bosh have become a wrecking crew and James has played at such a high level that he is gaining comparison to His Airness. (He’s not as good as Jordan. Just saying.) Meanwhile, Dirk Nowitzki is channeling his inner-Larry Bird (offensively, he is currently as good in this Playoffs run as Larry Legend) and the Mavericks are, dare I say, the toughest team in the West.
Common sense says that the Heat should be favored since they have home court advantage and the cast of “Two and a Half Superstars.” But the entire Playoffs run by Dallas has proven that you can’t rely on the eye test. Teams, not individuals, win championships and Dallas has the better overall cast. The trifecta of Dirk’s late game heroics, team defense pushed by better than advertised head coach Rick Carlisle and the little bench that could will be just enough to make LeBron a “witness” of another team holding holding up the O’Brien Trophy. That said, don’t be shocked if the Heat’s aggressive play brings us deja vu from the 2006 NBA Finals with a Heat championship, as Mark Cuban’s head literally explodes when LeBron, Wade and Bosh do a choreographed Dougie routine next to David Stern. The NBA. It’s fantastic!
Ben York: Heat in 6
It’s pretty simple, really; the Mavs just don’t have the personnel to guard Lebron James and Dwyane Wade effectively. People are talking about the match-up problems that Dirk Nowitzki gives the Heat, but what about the other way around? DeShawn Stevenson guarding Lebron? Please. Dallas hasn’t played a team like the Heat in the playoffs yet and we still haven’t seen Dwyane Wade completely take over (which is inevitable). I’ve learned never to count the Heat out this season.
Bryan Crawford: Heat in 6
For me, to even say that Miami is going to win the title it tastes like acid in my mouth and thinking so gives me a migraine the likes of which Scottie Pippen couldn’t even fathom. But let’s face it, the Heat look unbeatable right now. LeBron James and Chris Bosh have both elevated their play which is scary. The defense has given opposing teams nightmares, and scarier than both of those is the fact that Dwyane Wade has yet to play well in these Playoffs. If James and Bosh keep playing at a high level and Wade can somehow tap into the magnificence he displayed against the Dallas Mavericks 5 years ago, the Heat could actually close this thing out in five games. On the other side, Dirk Nowitzki has been playing magnificent basketball in the postseason and has stated that 2006 is a forgotten memory. His supporting cast seems a lot better this time around and a flame out from the German seems a lot less likely, giving the Heat a legitimate cause for concern. All told, Dallas has a real shot at exacting some ’06 revenge on Miami and the “hater” in me would LOVE to see them hoisting the Larry O’B when it’s all said and done. But if the Playoffs have taught me anything this year, it’s this: You can’t bet against LeBron James anymore. It’s just not wise.
Charles Peach: Heat in 6
I think many of us believed LeBron was the unique type of talent that could carry a team to a championship on his own. Apparently, he didn’t believe so. He preferred DWade to put some dudes on his back and Bosh to put a couple on his back, so that he had a much more comfortable load to carry. While I’ll applaud the Heat for accomplishing what they set out to conquer, I won’t rank it very high among the most challenging or inspiring championship runs.
Clay Kallam: Heat in 6
There’s a huge difference between having to stop two scorers and having to stop three. With only two threats to worry about (Dirk and, well, whoever’s hot that night), Miami can essentially assign 1 1/2 players to both guys; with three, though, one of the scorers is always going one-on-one. Or, to put it another way, who would you rather rely on? Chris Bosh or JJ Barea?
Cub Buenning: Heat in 6
I have been against the Heat from the start. Not because of their sheer existence or the Vince McMahon-produced “Introduction” or that LeBron decided to say goodbye to his home state in that warped, choreographed manner. No, my disdain was due to their collective arrogance. Seven titles?!?! Are you kidding?!?! Just because of your epic off-season free-agent haul, you were going to jump that process of becoming a contender, and go directly to being the likely victors for the foreseeable future? That’s an insult to the sheer “team” nature of the game we all love. Professional hoops success takes time. Championships are cooked in a crock-pot, not the microwave.
Dallas, on the other hand, I have just flat-out doubted at every turn. I have picked against them in every round of this postseason, and here they stand just four wins away from the ultimate prize. Dirk has been even better and more “4th-quarter clutch” than normal and his supporting cast of aged veterans has quietly taken a springtime dip into the Fountain of Youth.
So either, the Heat win and prove much of what I believe to be unique about basketball completely false, or the Mavericks win and I am just flat-out wrong about the 2011-2012 season. So, I am taking the Heat in 6. (Which means I want the Mavericks.) Does that make any sense?
Eddie Maisonet: Mavs in 7
Dallas has not seen a team like Miami this entire Playoff series. Miami has not seen a team like Dallas this entire Playoff series. Dallas hasn’t seen a team who has three players who can dominate a game at any given time like Miami. Conversely, Miami hasn’t seen a team like Dallas who can go 11-deep and win a game virtually any way possible. Outside of my hometown OKC Thunder, my heart’s been riding with LeBron all season and I have my reasons for wanting Miami to win. My brain tells me to pick Dallas. They defend the rim better, they have more players with notches on their belt, and I think they have a better coach. Miami plays basketball at a degree of difficulty of a 9.9, whereas Dallas does their best to make the game easy. Therefore, Dallas should win…but we’ll see what happens. *crosses fingers*