The Fast Break: NBA Finals Preview Edition
Posted Jun 16 2011 1:07PM
"The Fast Break" is a weekly NBA notebook column that features interviews, insight, international news and more. New every Thursday on NBA.com/fastbreak.
Fast Break Update: Look for a new Fast Break on June 16 with a draft preview and June 24 with a draft recap.
Secaucus, N.J. Ė Sitting at an outdoor restaurant in Nashville, Tenn. in early October, the discussion came up between a few friends whether the Miami Heat would be able to win a championship in the Big Three's first season. My cousin, Adam, said he absolutely thought they would. My friend, Kevin, strongly disagreed and said it would be one of the leagueís 29 other teams.
Both still have a chance at the bragging rights.
Here we are, eight months later and the NBA Finals is being decided between the Heat and Dallas Mavericks. It's a matchup pitting young superstar talent against veteran superstar talent. But donít think being youthful means playing catch-up for the Mavsí elder players. They easily bounced Oklahoma City, one of the leagueís youngest and most talented teams, in five games.
It's no surprise the Heat are four wins from a title. When LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach, the goal was to win and do it quickly. For success to happen this fast though, the stacked-team model will certainly be on the minds of future free agents.
No other players on Miamiís roster averages more than seven points outside of James, Bosh and Wade. Only Joel Anthonyís 5.1 rebounds in the playoffs is close to the trioís 8.3 average. This lack of depth is where the Heat have shown the most vulnerability this season.
Dallas has as good a shot as any team to take down the Heat. The way they blew through the Los Angeles Lakers and the Thunder shows they're primed for putting a checkmark next to one more team.
No one is playing better basketball than Dirk Nowitzki. The 7-foot German is averaging 28.4 points and 7.5 rebounds in 38.9 minutes of action. The guy doesnít leave the floor, which only betters Dallasí chances. Any time a center-sized player is positioned in the four-spot, you create a mismatch. Bosh is going to have his hands full.
Thatís not the only matchup the Mavericks have an edge, at least in my opinion. Hereís my take on the starting lineups, as well as the benches:
Point Guards: Jason Kidd vs. Mike Bibby
Shooting Guard: DeShawn Stevenson vs. Dwyane Wade
Forward: LeBron James vs. Shawn Marion
Forward: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Chris Bosh
Center: Tyson Chandler vs. Joel Anthony
Bench: JJ Barea, Peja Stojakovic, Jason Terry vs. James Jones, Mario Chalmers, Udonis Haslem
Kidd, Terry and Nowitzki -- James is in this category too -- have all been to Finals, yet left without any jewelry. Considering age, there aren't going to be many more opportunities to reach this center-stage moment. Thatís why for them, a chance at a championship could be now or never. The Heat, meanwhile, could be at the beginning of a very special run.
Prediction: Mavericks in six
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