In watching the Western Conference playoffs, one cannot help but notice how it was dominated by offense. The third-seeded Dallas Mavericks pushed their way past the Portland Trail Blazers by incredible shooting.
Jason Kidd went bananas in Game 1 of that series and scored over 20. While I was pretty confident the day after he would not do that again—which he hasn't to this point—Peja Stojakovic and J.J. Barea scored almost at will.
Brandon Roy the Blazers made it very interesting in the middle games, but Dallas took the series as they should have.
I don't even care to discuss the Lakers series, I am tired of hearing Dallas is better than the Lakers, just a month before the playoffs started, the Lakers demolished the Mavs by over 20, Dallas was not better, they played better and the defending champs were uninterested. Particularly Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were enough to beat New Orleans, but not Dallas.
Besides that, Jason Terry and all the other shooters shot over 80 percent from three. We all knew that wouldn't happen again.
Oklahoma City didn't have enough scoring and while they are the Western Conference team of the future, Dallas won the 2011 Western Conference title.
The Miami Heat were the most high-profile roster coming into the NBA season, much less the playoffs. The new group started its playoff run together against 76ers">Philadelphia. Similar to Oklahoma City, a team on the rise as well, but they will not make their next step until after the Andre Iguodala/Monta Ellis deal gets done.
If you push back at Boston they are very beatable. The Celtics' greatest winning formula is intimidation, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo are the biggest talkers in basketball, LeBron James and Chris Bosh proved that if teams shove back, Boston is very beatable and the Heat defeated the Celtics handily in five.
The Chicago series is what makes the finals extremely interesting. League MVP Derrick Rose had been at the rim at will the first two series. Kyle Korver had shot well over 50 percent from three-point land.
In the Eastern Conference Finals, Rose shot under 30 percent and Korver under 25 percent. Rose had what he wanted early with Mike Bibby, but when crunch time came, LeBron slowed him down and limited his good looks. That was very telling of the Miami defense after beating the Bulls in five and preparing for the offensive juggernaut Dallas.
The biggest factor in the NBA Finals is without question Dirk Nowitzki, however, if one remembers back to the 2006 NBA Finals, starter at the time Udonis Haslem played him very well. He and Joel Anthony have combined to bring Nowitzki's percentage down considerably from the Western Conference playoffs.
Also, the way Rose was handled by the Miami defense and Korver struggled from three, Dallas is realizing through the first four games of the finals that same effect, only magnified.
Stojakovic has been virtually taken out of the series. Barea is shooting miserably and LeBron is taking Jason Terry out in the fourth quarter very similar to the way he limited Rose.
Dallas' two wins in the series have come as a result of one man's play alone—Dirk Nowitzki. He, in the whole series, is scoring over 60 percent of the Mavs' points in the fourth and has been spectacular to say the least.
Coming into the last three games of the series, one has got to assume LeBron will actually arrive and score, that he and Wade will attack the rim as opposed to over 30 threes in Game 2, and that Dirk will miss a few shots. He did miss the tying shot at the end of Game 3 and has been defended as well as he can be.
Miami is younger and the leadership is hungrier. I honestly expect them to win two straight, but the advantage they have is knowing they are coming home. Dallas must hope Nowitzki can scrape out another amazing fourth quarter at home and one more time in Miami—a lot to ask.
Dallas absolutely has to win Game 5 they will not beat the Heat twice in Miami.
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