Dan Gilbert, long suffering Cleveland fans, Delonte West and, well, just about anyone that roots for the good guys over the bad, we are all screwed! We have been wracking our brains for a week now desperately trying to find a way the Dallas Mavericks can defeat the Miami Heat in the NBA finals. Alas, we cannot find a way. Dark days are upon us.
First, congrats to the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma Thunder on their fantastic seasons. Both teams were expected to improve, but both showed this year that they will be legit contenders for the next several years. Although the Thunder and Bulls teams have completely different makeups, their respective demise in the last round was exactly the same. Both teams lost in the conference finals in five games, but were in a position to win every game. Both team’s had inconceivable collapses (Bulls game 5, Thunder game 4) at the end of games that ultimately closed out their seasons. These collapses were a culmination of inexperience and, simply, just some dumb basketball. No doubt the Mavs and Heat clutch players (Dirk and LeBron were awesome) at the end of every close game were spectacular and these teams are the most deserving to be meeting in the finals. But it was hard watching two first team NBA superstars being exposed both mentally and physically in those series. Anyone who likes sports wants to see guys like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant have success, they’re just so damn nice! We can’t wait to see how they respond next year after being humbled at the end of their seasons.
Okay Mavs/Heat. The short version of how both teams advanced to the finals is their two best players were spectacular. Dirk’s play is a worldwide reminder that one can dominate a basketball game without a single fast-twitch fiber in his body. Dirk’s 48 points on 15 shot attempts in game one against the Thunder was one of the greatest offensive performances ever. Dirk and his Mavs have taken a lot of abuse since their collapse in the 2006 finals and their subsequent first round exit the next season after a 67 win regular season campaign. That was a long time ago and this Dallas team ain’t soft anymore. Thirty eight year old Jason Kidd has been great and every Mav in their deep rotation has been a contributing factor at one point during their playoff run. Coach Rick Carlisle once again has proved his wizardry in getting the most out of his team. Dirk, team defense and proving to be the most intelligent team in the playoffs is how Dallas won the west. No doubt this team of veterans is also intelligent enough to know it’s their last hurrah if they can’t find a way to win it all this year.
Oh, what a time to figure out a team rotation. Until about 14 days ago, the Miami Heat had no idea, night in and out, who would be on the court – aside from their big three. At midseason, they cut their starting point guard Carlos Arroyo. What NBA championship team cuts their starting point guard half way through the season?? (none, till now). Mike Miller had been a colossal failure and the Mike Bibby pickup had paid no dividends. Most importantly the Heat’s best player of the non-big three, Udonis Haslem, had missed almost the entire season with a foot injury. Haslem provides all the variables needed to complement the big three; defense, rebounding, toughness. Somehow, someway these non-factors became contributing members of the Miami Heat for the first time all year against Chicago. Haslem finally healthy? Miller inspired by the birth of his new child regained his shooting touch?? Bibby realizing all he needs to do is knock down wide open jumpers??? Whatever. Now LeBron gets all clutch and Bosh is shooting like Chris Mullin from the perimeter and, well, Wade has ALWAYS been a winner and suddenly this team actually becomes a team. Oh boy.
The Mavericks have been a team all year long. They established their bench and an identity with their team defense early in the season. They recovered from a season ending Caron Butler injury and Dirk missing 9 games midseason. The Mavericks team depth has allowed this veteran team to play its best basketball in the playoffs. Sadly that ain’t gonna matter when they can’t score against the Heat. The Mavs scorers all operate from the perimeter and the Heat have the best defensive team on the perimeter since the early 90’s with Pippen and Jordan making life hell for their opponents. Sorry Cleveland (go Indians!), but it’s the HEAT in Six.