The Miami Heat were the most scrutinized team in the history of the NBA. It started over the summer when LeBron James and Chris Bosh signed with the team as free agents. Along with Dwyane Wade, the three pranced around and openly pondered the number of championships the trio would win together. Most fans outside of Miami were turned off. The team won 58 games, which meant they were killed 24 times in the press. The made the playoffs as the #2 seed.
The Dallas Mavericks looked like an early title contender as they got off to the hot start. Then, Dirk Nowitzki became injured and the team fell back to earth. Caron Butler suffered a season-ending injury at the start of 2011, which seemed to kill Dallas's chances. The team coasted intot he playoffs as a #3 seed.
The playoff run:
Miami cruised past an upstart 76ers squad in five games. Despite Rajon Rondo's tremendous heart, the Boston Celtics didn't put up the kind of fight that was expected from them. LeBron silenced the critics who have argued he can't finish a game. Miami won in five games. The Chicago Bulls dominated Game 1 of the Eastern Finals at home. But Miami took Game 2 and won the close games. Miami won two more games at home, giving the Heat an 8-0 home playoff record. They closed out in Game 5 for the third straight series.
Dallas was up 2-1 over the Portland Trail Blazers heading into Game 4 in Portland. Dallas glided to a huge third quarter lead, which eventually evaporated. Portland won to tie the series. But the veteran Mavs won the next two games to win the series 4-2. The former two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers posed no match for the Mavericks, who swept Kobe's team. Phil Jackson retired after the series. The young Oklahoma City Thunder managed to take a game from Dallas, but couldn't win at home. In Game 4, Dallas turned a 15-point deficit with three minutes to go into an overtime victory. Dirk was on fire as the Mavs won 4-1.
Dallas should win a hard five game series. The Heat can't guard Dirk. Bosh is a poor defender, particularly on the perimeter. Udonis Haslem can maybe hang with Dirk in spurts. LeBron has become a good defender, but gives up four inches to Dirk, who can get any shot he wants against LeBron.
Dallas's depth is another key. While Dallas is the deepest team int he league, Miami's role players have not produced much this year. Haslem is coming off of an injury that kept him out most of the season. Mike Miller has two injured thumbs. Mike Bibby is a liability in the starting lineup. Joel Anthony is a good defender and a fair rebounder, but not a scorer. Zyldraukas Ilgauskas and Erik Dampier and not as good as the Dallas big men. James Jones and Eddie House are good shooters off the bench, but neither were a factor against the Bulls.
Meanwhile, Dallas counters with Jason Terry and J.J. Barea (who everyone is determined to call Barera), two little scoring machines. Unless Miami puts Wade or James on those two, the Heat will have trouble stopping them. Peja Stojakovic has been known to knock down a three. Dallas also has a better center coming off the bench, Brendan Haywood, than Miami has on the team.
Tyson Chandler has turned Dallas into a defensive-minded team. Between Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and DeShawn Stevenson, Dallas has good perimeter defenders, which is essential against a team with Wade and James. Unless Wade and James can explode four times, or one of Miami's reserve shooters has a career series, Dallas will win the championship.