SLAM 2011 Finals Picks
Our writers and editors make some predictions.
Irv Soonachan: Heat in 6
It would be great to see JKidd and Dirk get a ring together, but the Mavericks just don’t have enough talent (in its prime) to derail the Big Three. The Mavs’ inspired play will win them a couple of games, but not four of them.
Jonathan Santiago: Heat in 6
No Playoff team has executed their offense more effectively than the Mavs. But as much as I’d like to think otherwise, that trend stops in the Finals against the Heat. Defensively, Miami has the speed and discipline needed to close out against the Mavs’ shooters. And they have a defender (LeBron James) who’s going to have much better success against Dirk Nowitzki than any of the Mavs’ previous three opponents.
Kyle Stack: Heat in 6
Unlike 2006′s Dwyane Wade Foulfest and an epic meltdown from the Mavericks in Game 3, this will be a Heat-Mavericks Finals that fans will want to remember years from now. There are plenty interesting matchups to watch—LeBron on Dirk, Marion on LeBron, Wade and Terry chasing each other all over the court—but the one that will be the difference maker is Miami’s ability to stifle Dallas’ penetration into the lane. Dallas can score in bunches along the perimeter, but Terry, JJ Barea and Marion need to drive the lane to give the Mavericks enough opportunities to out-score Bron, Wade and Bosh.
Maurice Bobb: Mavs in 7
The popular reason to pick against Miami to win it all is simple: hate. People hate the way LeBron left Cleveland, they hate the preening he, Wade and Bosh did on stage and their impish proclamations of multiple titles, blah, blah, blah. I don’t care about any of that. In fact, I don’t hate the Heatles at all. They can preen all they want, do jigs during timeouts and even crowd surf at halftime. All I give a rats ass about is basketball. And while Dallas is the underdog in most predictions, you’ll find traces of fear that the Mavs can also pull it off in those same write ups. That fear is based on the fact that Dirk and Co. have finally figured it out and are the best team. Team, not supergroup of superplayers. There’s a difference. Right now, at this very moment, the Mavs have the best team in these Playoffs and that, SLAM Nation, is what it takes to take home the Larry O’Brien. But hey, I’ll do a little waffling of my own and say I won’t be shocked if the Heat pull it off.
Sandy Dover: Mavs in 7
A huge reason for this is that while I believe very much in Dallas’ ability to beat any team in the league, including Miami, the fairly recent gelling of the Heat make it difficult to project what they might do, and that makes them dangerous. I don’t really know what to expect of them, but I do feel that the overall strength of the Mavericks can overcome the Heat. Dirk Nowitzki is no longer mentally weak, he is nearly impossible to defend when he’s motivated (and he’s more than motivated now) and the good vibes of Dallas make it seem that even an elite LeBron James and Co. might not be able to overtake the team from North Texas.
Tracy Weissenberg: Heat in 5
I picked the Heat to win it all before the season began, so I’m going to stick with them. With Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh all able to command double teams, the Mavs are going to have their hands full with defensive schemes. The Heat proved their ability to turn it up a notch, as Boston and Chicago won a combined two games in the postseason vs Miami after compiling a 6-1 record during the regular season.
The main thing about Miami’s best players is that they get it done on both ends of the floor. The Heat have allowed just over 88 points per game in the postseason and have made 46 more free throws than their opponents have attempted. Udonis Haslem emerged as a warrior after logging big minutes against the Bulls, and his presence on the floor alone changes the team’s dynamic.
I think the most important lesson everyone—regardless of profession—can take from the forming of the Heat is that it is good to be great, and it is great to be the best, but never shy away from the opportunity to work with talented people.