After the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat in Game 5 on Thursday night, it's very hard to believe that the Heat will be able to win the next two at home to steal the series. If the Mavericks do win the series, the league will change.
Upon first glance, this year's matchup seemed less than ideal. To most fans, the matchup surely wasn't as attractive as a Heat-Lakers final, Celtics-Lakers final, or even a Bulls-Lakers final would be. However, this year's matchup is perfect...perhaps too perfect.
The reason why it is perfect is that it is more than a battle between two great NBA teams. It is a battle of conflicting philosophies.
After seven years of carrying the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James realized that the load was too heavy. When James infamously announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach, pairing himself with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, he admitted that help was necessary to win an NBA championship.
James’ move to Miami became a catalyst for more talk about player movement and a new philosophy had arisen, which the Miami Heat embodies. It now seemed that it was necessary for superstars to team up to create a championship contender.
Teams such as the New York Knicks have adhered to this philosophy by luring in Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. The New Jersey Nets are attempting to follow suit, pairing Deron Williams with Brook Lopez. Other NBA superstars such as Dwight Howard and Chris Paul have shown their disdain for their losing teams and have also desired to pair up with other stars to create a championship caliber team.
The Dallas Mavericks, on the other hand, are a completely different team than the Miami Heat. In many ways, they embody the conflicting philosophy, the philosophy that many of us admire. The philosophy that we believed LeBron James could follow and win a championship with. The Dallas Mavericks are the complete embodiment of the sole superstar carrying his team to the promise land with the aid of several role players.
Thus, this year's fight for the championship is a fight for the dominant philosophy. The outcome will show us which philosophy is the most effective.
So far, the Mavericks have displayed their dominance over the Heat. Role players like Jason Terry, Jose Juan Barea, DeShawn Stevenson, Shawn Marion, and Tyson Chandler have completely stepped up their game. Terry and Stevenson have been knocking down threes. Barea has been slashing down the lane, creating layups for himself and opportunities for other teammates. Chandler has rebounded and provided a strong defensive presence for this once soft team. Marion has looked like the guy we saw with the Suns; he has displayed his defensive prowess while making difficult shots. Then, we have Dirk Nowitzki, the superstar. Despite an injury to a finger on his left hand and a 102 degree fever, he has carried his team by knocking down shots in the most important minutes of the game.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, have shown strong signs of inferiority. Yes, they have been great in two games in this series; I don't doubt that. However, their weaknesses are still very clear. It is clearly evident that superstars Dwyane Wade and LeBron James have had trouble playing with each other. A power struggle between the two during crunch time has led to losses. At times, LeBron James has been too passive at the offensive end, especially in Game 4. He has pushed the load entirely on Wade by giving up on shots and refusing to attack the basket. Chris Bosh, too, has had trouble hitting wide open shots.
Clearly, it seems that the Mavericks, the team that embodies the sole superstar philosophy, has the upper hand in this series. If they win it all, the league will change. It is possible that, as a result of a Mavericks' win, teams will lean towards the sole superstar philosophy, rather than the multiple superstars philosophy; it will be evident that it only takes one hungry superstar and a handful of specialized skill players to succeed. Organizations will realize that 'Team' is more important than 'Talent,' not the other way around.
Maybe I am overreacting. What if the Miami Heat do end up winning the series? The league will continue its shift towards the superstars philosophy. 'Talent' will triumph over 'Team.'
There is no way to know exactly what will happen now. One game has the potential of entirely changing the league. Only time will tell.