Dallas Mavericks to Win an Intriguing Finals Matchup

The NBA Finals for the 2005-06 season is a very intriguing matchup. For the first time since the 1998 season, the Finals will not consist of either the Spurs, Lakers or Pistons. These are two teams that have never made a finals appearance, the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. Although there are familiar faces such as Pat Riley, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, and Avery Johnson, this experience is new for more than 75 percent of the players. It is a breath of fresh air to see superstars such as Dwayne Wade and Dirk Nowitzki get an opportunity to display their talents on basketballs brightest stage. With all that being said, look for the Mavericks to upend the Heat in six games to win the franchise’s first championship and send Mark Cuban into a frenzy.

These two teams are very different when it comes to offensive and defensive philosophy. Sure the Heat have O’Neal, a dominating big man who should have his way with Desagna Diop or Erick Dampier, which ever one Johnson decides to throw at him, and also Riley, a Hall of Fame coach who made drastic changes during the offseason and has guided them to the Finals. Not to mention, the Heat have Wade, probably the best combination of explosiveness and strength that the league has to offer. Wade is a true superstar in this league as evidenced by the series he had against the defending champions, the Detroit Pistons. However, after Wade and O’Neal, it is tough to know what the supporting cast will do on gameday. Will we see the Jayson Williams that gets the ball and pushes it, converting easy layups and pull up jumpers, or the Williams that at times is just standing and watching or sitting and watching Payton.? Will we see the Antoine Walker that can not only shoot the long ball, but effectively go to the hoop, or the Walker that wants to stand and launch 27 footers? Basically with the Heat, everyone knows where the ball is going and who the focal points are. It is alot easier to focus on Wade and Shaq thus making adjustments for Riley that much harder.

As for the Mavericks, they present matchup problems all over the place for the Heat. First there is Nowitzki, Udonis Haslem is supposed to get this call but he is far too small for the German Gunner. Generally listed at 6’10”, Haslem is more like 6’8” and although he has a little bit more muscle and quickness to defend the Diggler, Nowitzki has too much length so Haslem should not pose a threat to bother him from getting a good shot. If Johnson elects to go with Devin Harris along with Jason Terry at the guard spots, the Mavericks will have a huge speed advantage over the Heat, throw in Josh Howard and that will make Walker have to guard one of those players which is a mismatch in favor of the Mavs. Also, Wade will have to expend alot of energy on the defensive end, either keeping the active Howard out the lane or chasing Terry off the three point line. The Mavs also have an assortment of players to throw at Wade, most likely starting with Adrian Griffin, Marquis Daniels, and in key situations Howard. As far as the bench goes, the Mavericks clearly have an advantage there also. The Heat will rely on Payton to bring the ball up and run the offense, James Posey will need to stretch the floor out with his three point shooting to give Wade and Shaq space to operate, Alonzo Mourning will try to be a force around the rim but could be relegated to not having an impact at all if Coach Johnson goes small and has Zo involved in multiple pick and rolls. The Mavericks have instant offense on the bench, with Jerry Stackhouse, who is a very clutch player, Keith Van Horn and a great two way player in Daniels who could start for most teams in the league. Unless Wade has a Jordan-like performance for the series and Shaq is able to sustain his energy for the series, there is no reason why the Mavericks will not be crowned the champions of the season.

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