In a rematch of the 2006 NBA Finals, anything can happen. With the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks coming of impressive comeback wins, we will see tonight which team can sustain a lead and take advantage of the other teams weaknesses.
In the 2006 finals, the Mavs took a commanding 2-0 lead to start the series, but then blew it losing four straight. With Dirk Nowitizki poised to bring home a championship to Dallas, I don't see history repeating itself.
This series is all about matchups, and whichever team can control the paint, in my eyes, will win the series.
For both of these guys, experience is not the question, but it's which player can make the big shot when his team needs it the most.
As much as I love Mike Bibby, the clear-cut choice has to be Jason Kidd.
This will be J-Kidd's third NBA Finals (he previously played in two with New Jersey), and he's been playing at a higher level than his opponents this postseason.
If Bibby struggles early, Erik Spoelstra won't hesitate to put in Mario Chalmers, and I think Kidd still wins that matchup.
Advantage: Jason Kidd
Dwyane Wade had his fair share of struggles in the Eastern Conference finals, but the all-world guard has dealt with criticism before, and I expect him to have a huge series.
Wade will be matched up against 6'5" guard DeShawn Stevenson, who was placed into the starting lineup right before the playoffs began. Stevenson said Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd vouched for him to be in the starting role over the struggling Rodrigue Beaubois.
Stevenson won't play a lot of minutes, and his duties will be fulfilled by Jason Terry. So when Stevenson is in, I expect Wade to have a field day.
Advantage: Dwyane Wade
Shawn Marion has stepped up his game during these 2011 playoffs. He played some great defense in the Oklahoma City series and might have saved a game or two.
He has yet to face anyone as dynamic as LeBron James though, and I definitely see him struggling a bit against the King. Look for LeBron to drive to the basket and try to draw some fouls, especially to the side Dirk Nowitzki is on.
Advantage: LeBron James
There has been a lot of talk circulating about where Dirk Nowitzki should be placed among the all-time greats in NBA history. I have him in the top 20 without a championship, and if he can get it done this year, I have no problem placing him in the top 15.
No player has deserved a championship more than Dirk since Karl Malone, and I would hate for him not to have one. I think Dirk has the ultimate advantage in this matchup because he has great post moves and is athletic enough to contain Chris bosh from mid-range.
Ultimately, you can argue Dirk is the best player in this series, and don't be surprised if the Heat place LeBron James on him from time to time.
Advantage: Dirk Nowitzki
Tyson Chandler has been very consistent throughout these playoffs, but this matchup will make it hard for him to get points in the paint.
Joel Anthony has been a shot-blocking machine, and Heat fans have been chanting "MVP" toward him at the free-throw line for most of the postseason.
Chandler, a former No. 2 overall pick by the L.A. Clippers, has never lived up to his hype. This series could define his legacy though and help right some of the doubters who questioned him from the beginning.
Advantage: Tyson Chandler
With Jason Terry, JJ Barea and Peja Stojakovic coming off the bench, this Dallas team is just flat-out deeper than the Heat and are deeper than any team the Heat have played so far.
If Terry can continue to hit his three ball, and Barea can continue to draw fouls and drive the lane, the Heat bench players have no chance at stopping them.
The Jim Carrey look-a-like may not be funny, but he does have experience coaching in some pretty big games. The former Pistons and Pacers coach led the Pistons to multiple playoff appearances and led the Pacers to the Eastern Conference finals, where they eventually lost to Detroit. Carlisle has the deeper team and All-Stars coming off the bench, which makes his job a whole lot easier.
Spoelstra, who is in his third year as coach of the Heat, will have tough choices to make on matchups and will certainly run into problems. If the Heat can get off to quick starts, Spoelstra will allowed to be more flexible.
Advantage: Rick Carlisle
The team that plays in the American Airlines Center, AKA The Dallas Mavericks.
No player is more hungry than Dirk, and no team is deeper than the Mavs.
The Heat were fortunate to make it this far, and I definitely see them winning one in the future—just not this year.