Tonight we begin the finals. We begin what could be one of the most fun match-ups in NBA history. A high octane offense against a slow half-court offense. Two lockdown defenses, 4 hall of famers, and one NBA championship.
This game will start it all. It will set the tone for the series. It will set the pace. It will show the world who’s boss. It will prove to everyone that these guys are for real. This game is more than just an NBA finals game. This is the first impression we’re going to get of how this NBA finals will taste.
What am I looking for in this game?
For the Heat i’m looking for them to set the tone. They need to come out on to the court with more swagger then Dwyane Wade’s clothing choices. They need to be confident and they need to play like they have throughout the postseason. If they can come out and dump on the Mavs as soon as the ball is tossed then they can win this game. The Heat are very good when they are in the lead. After their shaky few games with losing leads in the middle of the regular season they focused more on the 4th quarter and closing out games. Lebron took all the criticism to heart and became a clutch player, that his team can depend on when they need him.
In a few small words. The Heat need to put their foot on the gas, go 100 miles an hour and don’t stop the whole game. If they can get an early lead then they can get the crowd into it which will be extremely important considering the Mavericks are one of the best road teams in the NBA.
Then they need to show the Mavericks that they can defend Dirk. They can’t play defense like the Thunder and let him score 48 points in game 1. His confidence hasn’t been higher in his whole career and from that game on it made it hard for the Thunder to slow him down. He played the rest of the series with a certain confidence and looseness about him that brought his teammates and the crowd up with him. The Heat need, need to shut down Dirk. It’s the most crucial thing in this series. We all know what Dirk can do if he isn’t guarded properly, and the Heat can’t let that happen. Especially not in the finals where Dirk is hungrier then ever before. It might be hard to double team him, due to the skilled three point shooters that the Mavericks have. Like Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry. They have to try and force him to give the ball up. He loves the spot on the wing between the free throw line extended and the restricted area. He has so much room there. All his teammates move to the other side of the court and give him all the space he needs to sink a jumper. I would try, first of all to double him on the entry pass and not the actual possession. If he can’t get the ball then it’s harder for him to score. Then whoever is guarding him, whether it be Bosh or Haslem, they call for a double. It’s a safer way to guard him, Jason Terry and the other three point shooters won’t make the open shots consistently plus I think Lebron is fast enough or Wade is fast enough to rotate over.
You can’t stop Dirk Nowitzki, I know that. I’m just suggesting ways to limit him.
For Lebron, it’s his big moment. The whole basketball world is watching him, waiting for every tiny mistake to critique on. He can’t mess up. He has to show the world that he doesn’t give up in big playoff moments which wasn’t true in the first place. He has to show everyone that in this series he is the best player on the floor. That he is the one who deserves the ring, and that he wants it more than Dirk. It’s his chance to silence everybody and play his game. He has to use up 100% of his energy and try get Miami into a transition game. Every time he grabs a rebound it should be up the floor, the Mavs defense is too good for them to stay in the half-court.
For the Mavericks it’s a chance to silence the Heat crowd. If they can win the first game in Miami, well it’s a gift. They would easily silence the crowd. They would cause the media to pick on Lebron more and I know he says he absorbs the criticism but with all the pressure mounting, I doubt he can stay so composed for much longer. They would pick up a 1-0 lead and force the Heat on their heels. It would also give Dirk a taste of the 2006 series where the same thing happened in 2006. Where Dallas picked up the first at home but lost in 6, it will give him sickening memories and remind him how bad he wants this and make him try harder. If that’s possible. It’s their chance to spit on any memory of playoff chokes and win this series for Dallas, for Dirk, for Jason Kidd, and for the loud-mouthed Mark Cuban. The Mavericks are the underdogs in this series and they know that if they don’t come out strong that they will lose this series quicker than it takes D-Rose to run up the court.
For the defense, it’s their time to step up. They have played stellar defense up till now but this is no time to let loose. The Heat have mismatches at the small forward spot and the shooting guard spot. That’s going to take some team defense overall to stop them. They have to remember their rotations, and shift constantly to guard the open man. If Lebron and Wade dominate their man like I predict they will then it’s basically like playing 4 on 5 in favour of the Heat.
For Dirk personally. He knows what must be done. He knows how close he is, to greatness, to glory, to champagne, to the hall of fame and to an NBA championship. He is hungrier than ever before and that has clearly showed off in his play. He has shouted with adrenaline 10 times in the playoffs as a sign of a tougher, meaner player and a more confident and proud one. He has said that this is the best team he’s played on his whole career but he knows that this is his time. It’s his stage. He knows that a ring on the resumé will let him retire in peace. Lebron said it, if you want to be remembered as an all time great you win a ring. Dirk must. He has to come out of this game not unselfishly but confidently and aggressively. He has to take over as soon as the whistle blows. He hasn’t quite realized that he is unstoppable and is shooting the 2nd most unstoppable shot ever seen in the NBA. He has to take Chris Bosh into the post, take jump shot after jump shot. Jason Kidd is smart enough to know that Dirk needs to get into a rythm early for the Mavericks to have a good chance at winning this game.
Game 1 we’ll see you in 2 hours.