With the NBA Finals underway and Game 1 in the books, we have a much clearer picture as to the key matchups of the series.
Some of the most important matchups were obvious right from the start, while others were revealed in Game 1.
Whichever side can win the majority of these individual showdowns will come out of the NBA Finals as champions.
Here are the five matchups that will decide the series.
Despite having what many consider a subpar bench, the Miami Heat subs rose to the occasion in Game 1.
The Heat bench outscored the Mavericks bench 27-17 in the first game of the Finals, with Mario Chalmers leading the way with 12 points.
The Mavericks supposedly have the stronger of the two benches, especially with Jason Terry playing the role of the sixth man, but the Mavs couldn’t find their stroke in Game 1.
If Dallas is to have any shot at winning the series, J.J. Barea, Brendan Haywood, Terry and company need to step it up and dominate the Heat bench.
The coaching matchup is a very intriguing one.
On one hand, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has been around the block a couple times, paid his dues and is ready for his first championship.
On the other hand, Miami coach Erik Spoelstra is relatively new, having only coached the Heat for three seasons.
Both are excellent at what they do, and the one who is able to out-coach the other will give his team a significant advantage in the series.
Chris Bosh and Tyson Chandler are both somewhat overlooked on their respective teams, yet they are two of the most important players in the series.
LeBron James and Dwayne Wade will garner most of the attention from the defense, so Bosh will be left with many one-on-one opportunities, which he needs to capitalize on.
For Tyson Chandler, he needs to be a presence on the boards for the Mavericks, who are not a strong rebounding team, as showcased in Game 1.
The Heat and the Mavericks will be counting on their respective big man to rise up to the challenge and become a force in the paint.
Both Jason Terry and Dwayne Wade are prolific scorers, but neither are the best scorers on their team.
That being said, whoever can best compliment their team's top scoring threat will win this matchup.
In Game 1, the victor was Dwayne Wade, as he outscored Terry 22-12.
For the Mavericks to win, Terry needs to be scoring at least 20 points per game, while limiting Wade's production.
Right from the start, this was the most important matchup of the series.
Both LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki are going for their first ring, and both are their team’s go-to guy in the clutch.
Nowitzki outscored James 27-24 in Game 1, but James’ presence was greater.
James made all the hustle plays and was always around the ball, while Nowitzki disappeared at times and went 7-18 from the field.
Nowitzki should turn it around in Game 2, but whoever controls the game more consistently will lead his team to a title.