Thursday, June 08, 2006
CANON BALL!!! An NBA Finals Preview
It worked for me when I wrote my Eastern Conference Finals preview using lines from Caddyshack. So, to keep the ball rolling, here is my NBA Finals preview of the Heat versus the Mavs with lines from another of my all time favorites: Anchor Man …
1. Point Guards “You stay classy …”
Jason Williams finally decided to show up in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. And boy, did he ever. The thing is, J-Dub was aggressive, and that became the difference for him. Williams has managed to stay out of trouble and within Pat Riley’s vision. If Williams can carry over his Game 6 personality and be aggressive, good things can happen for the Heat. Since The Mavs like to run, the Heat is very much capable of doing the same with J-Dub on the floor. Then they can slow things down to a defensive mode with Gary Payton. The Mavs like to use Adrian Griffin to run their speedy offense but the biggest problem for Miami will come from Jason Terry. He’s aggressive, fast and an excellent shooter. And has demonstrated in these playoffs that he is a star in the making. But he'll be used more at the Two Guard, giving the Heat a slight edge here.
2. Shooting Guards “Look, the most glorious rainbow ever.”
The Mavs like to use Terry mostly at shooting guard and they figure to use him a lot here to match the Heat’s Dwyane Wade. Look for the Mavs to run a lot of double teams on Wade, forcing him to be a passer, forcing other Miami players like Udonis Haslem and James Posey to beat them. Wade has been prone to turn overs in these playoffs and the Mavs will make it their mission to bother Wade and have him turn over the ball. But the NBA Finals stage was built for Dwyane Wade. And he won’t disappoint. As usual, he will turn it on the brightest during the 4th quarter of each game. He’s the best player on the floor, in my opinion, and it will show.
3. Small Forward “It smells like a turd covered in burnt hair.”
The question of the ages here is Which Antoine Walker Will Show Up? Toine has been lights out this post-season and has kept the Heat boo-birds largely at bay. He, above all the other Miami role players, will be the key to the Heat’s success. Walker was brought here to be the third option for the Heat and with the Mavs total defensive focus on Wade and Shaq, Walker is going to have plenty of opportunities to put on his old Employee Number 8 hat and go to work. Will he succeed? Meanwhile, the Mavs feature a bright young star in Josh Howard. He’s long, athletic and strong and will likely guard Dwayne Wade. Wade has admitted that Howard gives him more trouble than any other player in the NBA. Howard’s length will be a problem for Walker to guard and he is very much the X-Factor in this entire series.
4. Power Forward ”I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly ...”
The biggest question of this series is, will Udonis Haslem be able to guard Dirk Nowitzky? Dirk presents a number of headaches for opposing teams. He’s a seven footer who can play inside and outside. He has an immaculate outside jumpshot, he can post up, he is quick, he can hit the three and he is an excellent free throw shooter. Without a doubt, Nowitsky is a star in the same breath with Shaq and D-Wade and the Mavs offense will move through him. Haslem is being asked to do the impossible. I believe Haslem will be able to contain Nowitzky from time to time. The concern then becomes Haslem’s offense. He is capable of hitting those mid-range shots, and is especially effective when Wade or Shaq dishes him the ball when under heavy defensive pressure. Haslem is himself a solid free thow shooter. But this is Dirk’s team and, like Wade, he will shine.
5. Center “I'm a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That's what kind of man I am.”
The Mavs are going to throw DeSagana Diop, Keith Van Horn and WNBA star Erick Dampier at Shaq. Not a single one of them will be able to contain him. Much like Nowitzki with the Mavs, Shaq presents the biggest headache for his opponent. The only strategy here may very well be the Hack-A-Shaq, and the Mavericks have 18 fouls to give between the three players guarding him. They will also try to beat Shaq with their quick fastbreaks. Still, if the Mavs resort to either of these methods, they will pay for it dearly. The Hack-A-Shaq only slows down the game, which favors the Heat. And trying to outrun Shaq will only open things up on the other side for D-Wade.
6. Coaching “I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.”
Avery Johnson is the NBA’s Coach of the Year. And deservingly so. He’s done an amazing job with this Dallas squad and each of his players have bought into his system. Still, I can’t believe the number of times I’ve heard or read that this matchup is even. Supposedly because Avery is well aware of the new way the game is played? What is that? New Age Philosophy crap! Pat Riley is arguably the greatest coach in NBA history. His success is certainly tied to the stars he’s managed from Magic, to Kareem to Ewing to Shaq and Wade. The man has a collection of rings that would make Liberace and Mr. T both very proud. Avery’s youth and enthusiasm is great. But I’ll take years of experience and expertise over that any day. I like the Motivator over the Little General.
7. Bench “You ate the whole... wheel of cheese? How'd you do that? Heck, I'm not even mad -- that's amazing.”
Dallas’ success has come in large part because of their very deep bench. Griffen, Dampier, Van Horn, and Jerry Stackhouse, are all big contributors. Stackhouse is the biggest problem here. He can be a starter pretty much anywhere else in the NBA and has a knack for big shots in key moments. Their bench is versatile, quick and explosive and it presents a big challenge to the Heat players and their coaching staff. The Heat are solid off the bench too with Posey, Payton and Alonzo Mourning. Look for the Heat to dip even further down the pine with Michael Doleac and perhaps others. Still, the Mavs bench has been the envy of the NBA and will be the envy of these Finals.
8. Prediction “I wanna polka!”
More than anything, this series is going to remind us of the first round series against the Bulls. Dallas is a quick team that excels in their perimeter game and can shoot lights out. But, like the Bulls series, the Heat will make adjustments and find a way. I believe that, even with all the dangerous, hot shooting players Dallas boasts, that the Heat have the best two players on the floor in Shaq and D-Wade. I also believe that Dallas will have no answer for Shaq. And while the Heat will have their hands full with Nowitsky, Shaq’s inside presence will be virtually unstoppable, allowing Walker, Posey and Haslem to take advantage when O’Neal dishes the ball out to them. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Heat plan to slow down the Mavericks. This series is going to be a dog fight between two very talented teams. In the end, I think Shaq once again proves he’s the most dominant force in all team sports.
Heat in Seven
See Other Finals Previews/Predictions at:
SporTech Matter ... KaLiBLeeK ... Mighty MJD ... Scoop & Neel ... FoxSports ... Bill Simmons ... YaySports ... Basketball Jones ... True Hoop ... The Association ... Daily Quickie ... Sun Sentinel ... The Herald ... Palm Beach Post ...
Labels: Miami Heat
Great preview Dude. I am predicting Miami in 6 although due to the crappy finals format I could easily see this series going. I had a nightmare last night we got swept. Nice wakeup call.
I also hate the Finals format. But, like the Pistons series, if we can just take one game in Dallas and win all our home games, we'll be straight.
Let's Go Heat!!
"Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention! I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story! I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen ... HEAT IN SIX!!!"
Anyway ... here is my pick: Heat in 6. I basically agree with you here Dude ... Shaq should be able to dominate everyone the Mavs throw at him. Just hope he stays out of foul trouble ...