By Josh Kramer
It is finally time for the conclusion of what has been a wild NBA season. The NBA Finals are set. And it is a rematch. Though I will state, these are two very different teams from the matchup of 5 years ago. In what has been a very memorable extra season thus far with many unexpected turns and twists, we have narrowed the field 2. And not to be pessimistic, but make sure to tune in and savor it. With the looming CBA disputes and possibility of a lockout next season, this may be the last professional basketball any of us gets to “Witness” for a long time.
I will admit, my predictions this year were way off. I had the Lakers/Celtics Round 3 Battle Royale predicted for the Finals since last October. It didn’t happen. The two teams left standing slayed both of the of the game’s mighty giants (Lakers and Celtics). They really made their own destiny.
Dallas shocked the world in sweeping the two-time defending champion Lakers. After the Lakers sweep, I will admit I was still not entirely sold on Dallas. I fully expected the Thunder athleticism to weigh too heavily on an aging Mavericks. I was dead wrong again. Dallas has been simply outstanding all postseason. And despite two 4th-quarter meltdowns (one of which they still won), they are still standing.
JJ Barea has been outstanding for the duration of the playoffs. Jason Terry has been his typical sharp-shooting self. And Dirk Nowitzki has simply been out of this world. There is no questioning that Dirk is the greatest shooting 7 footer of all time. In addition, I do not see how you question that he is also the greatest European player in the history of the game. He has vaulted himself into that top 15 player of all time conversation. The man has been unstoppable and really put the franchise that he has led for over 13 years now on his back.
The other participant in the finals is probably the League’s most hated team. The only team that enjoyed the world’s most over glorified and drawn out “Decision.” A team that I put down consistently all year and truly did not expect to make a run to the Finals just yet. Well, Miami has proved both the doubters and the haters wrong. They have looked outstanding this entire postseason and knocked off both the 1 and 3 seeds in the East. There is no questioning whether they deserve to be representing the East at this point.
Now I will admit, I figured Miami’s lack of a PG and a true center would be their undoing. It is amazing how much the NBA Game has changed even in just the past 5 years. All of the sudden, it seems the PG has become the most important position on the floor again. As you all are probably aware, the 90s and early 2000s were defined by teams that possessed star centers. I mean think about the contenders (outside of Chicago). The Knicks sported future Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing. The Rockets enjoyed having Hakeem Olajuwon patrolling the interior. Both the Magic and the Lakers had the pleasure of the one and only Shaq Diesel around the rim. And I could go on.
But now look at the contending teams. Chicago has none other than Derrick Rose. The Celtics have the scrappy Rajon Rondo. San Antonio has the French star Tony Parker. Derrick Fisher used to be a solid PG for the Lakers. The Thunder have the freak athlete that is Russell Westbrook. Dallas has none other than future of Hall of Famer Jason Kidd (plus Barea off the bench). Star PGs have become almost mandatory to having a successful franchise in the NBA.
Well Miami, the team that everybody loves to hate has gone all year without a traditional PG. They even have gone all year without a bonified center. Yet they are still breathing. They are still here and the favorite to bring home the title. And here is why.
First of all let me state that this is a great matchup. It pits arguably the deepest team in the NBA, the Mavericks, against one of the contending teams that really lacks depth. But as Miami has shown all year-long, they do not need a deep bench to win ball games. The star-studded Trifecta has really come on as of late and proven that they know how to win close games. So the Dallas bench advantage goes out the door. Then the next question you ask. Who on Miami can check the European sharpshooting assassin that is Dirk Nowitzki? I will tell you who. Try the League’s best all around defender. None other than the King, Lebron James. Now I am not saying Miami will or should put Lebron on Dirk all game. But come crunch time, expect Lebron to have some iso moments defending Dirk. We saw how much trouble Lebron gave the League MVP in the Conference Finals. Expect more of the same in the actual NBA Finals. Next, Miami has home court advantage due to winning one more game in the regular season than Dallas. And though the Mavs sported the best road record in the West, you better believe that a raucous arena in Miami will cause problems Lastly, the Mavericks are called the Atlanta Braves of the NBA for a reason. You can call me a hater, but they have never been able to win the big one. Do not expect it to happen this year.
I am sorry America. Look for the same result as the 06 Finals when Wade and the Heat handled the Mavericks in 6 (I have Heat in 6). Lebron will finally have the first title of his career.
Soon, it should actually be appropriate for Miami to throw a championship victory party unlike last July.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.