LeBron James and Dwyane Wade vs the Dallas wings
You can throw everything including the kitchen sink on LeBron James and he’s still going to get his. So, if you’re the Mavs, how do you hope to contain him?
Simple: Make Dwyane Wade work for everything he’s got.
There’s no way to stop LeBron, that much we know. He and Dirk are the two best players in the playoffs right now and short of sleeping with his mother like Delonte West supposedly did last year, there’s not much Shawn Marion, Corey Brewer, Jason Kidd, or even JJ Barea can do about it.
Actually, the feisty Barea has some Delonte in him so maybe he could take a crack at Momma James. But really, the series will hinge on how the Mavs can contain Lebron’s brother-at-arms, the equally irrepressible D-Wade.
Back in 2006, Wade pretty much had his way against the Dallas D, but he was guarded by “defensive stalwarts” the likes of which included Jason Terry, Adrian Griffin, Jerry Stackhouse, and the immortal Rawhle Marshall.
This year, he’s going to be having his hands full against Kidd, Marion, Barea, and Brewer. Throw in Brian Cardinal out there and he could potentially become the Wade Stopper. Ok, that’s not happening, but the point is, Miami is overly reliant on Wade and James for points that they both need to be great to offset the balance of Dallas’ roster.
When one of them had an off game against the Bulls, it was easily mitigated by the fact that the Bulls, outside of D-Rose, had precious source of points themselves. Against a loaded Mavs team that can get buckets anywhere, D-Wade and Bron need to have their ‘A’ games all series long.
With James, you can pretty much expect it. With Wade, you can still try to contain him and if the Mavs can do that, they’re going to win this series.
Dirk Nowitzki versus Chris Bosh
Let’s get this out of the way now: there’s no way Chris Bosh can contain Dirk Nowitzki. No way. Unless of course, he injects himself with HGH and packs 80 lbs in the next seven days and thereby becoming a full-fledged dinosaur, we can’t see him being able to guard the Diggler.
To do that, the Heat have to guard Dirk with some physical players, something Nick Collisson was able to do with some success in the West Finals. Be physical with Dirk, wear him down, and try to deny him the ball.
At this point, though, we’re not putting anything past Nowitzki because with the way he’s playing, the best defense on him is to hope and pray he just misses his shots, which if you’ve been watching the past month, is something that is easier said than done.
Going back to Bosh, if there’s a way that he can combat Dirk, he could man-up and continue his solid play from the East Finals and try to at least match Nowitzki’s output. If he can cancel out Dirk’s tally for the Finals, the Heat have a strong chance of making Mark Cuban cry again.
Battle of the Benches
Dallas’ bench is loaded. Miami? Not so much. Remember when Jason Terry said that he was going to try to outscore the whole Thunder bench at the start of the West Finals? He didn’t do it, then, but we’re not betting against him being able to do it against Miami’s collection of has-beens, never-wasses, and not-as-good-as-advertised-s.
Mark Cuban versus Pat Riley
Mark Cuban has surprisingly been a model citizen during this year’s playoffs but it seems hard to imagine that he can keep himself subdued when he looks across the court and sees the Armani-wearing, hair-slicked-back Pat Riley waiving at him with his 2006 championship ring that Cuban continues to feel belonged to him.
We’re placing bets that at some point in this Finals, Cubes will go off on Riles, prompting the NBA to organize the halftime show of Game 4 to be a “Hair versus Hair” Steel Cage match between the two with the loser getting his manly locks shaved in front of a national TV audience. Do it, Stern! Do it!
Dallas Fans versus the Referees
Mavericks fans undoubtedly still have that stench in their mouths over the way the referees gift-wrapped the 2006 NBA title to the Heat so it remains to be seen just how riotous these people can get in the event that Dirk gets called for a foul after Wade gives him a forearm shiver.
We’re going out on a limb here and say that the first bad call against the Mavs in Dallas will ignite a full on melee. Can those middle-aged-yet-surprisingly-fit refs outrun a horde of Mavs fans determined to off their heads at the first blown call? At the very least, it should make for some very good entertainment.
NEXT: The burning questions that we want answered