Keys For The Finals

That trophy keeps them going. The thought of them crying with the prestigious trophy in their arms is enough to keep them going. The thought of having NBA champion before their name keeps them going. The thought of being at the top of the basketball world keeps them going. The thought of all their hard work paying off keeps them going. Keep going they must.

This is no time to give up. The Mavericks and Heat realize they are too close to make a mistake. Too close for comfort is the right term in this context.

With the pressure increasing within every second they must execute their game plan. I have a few keys for each team that will help them win this series.

For the Mavericks the main thing they have to do is play amazing team and interior defense. They don’t have the defenders to guard Lebron or D-Wade. Shawn Marion isn’t quick enough or strong enough to deal with Lebron. Deshawn Stevenson doesn’t have enough defensive I.Q to deal with the craft of Dwyane. Which is why it’s crucial that the Mavs look out for each other on defense. If Lebron gets by his man then the other perimeter defenders have to shift over and take him on. Besides Lebron and Wade the Heat don’t have many threats to score from midrange. They won’t have to worry too much about the other players knocking their shots down when they rotate.

Keeping Miami in the half-court game could win them this series. The Heat often get stagnant on offense and leave it to Lebron or Wade for an ISO on the wings. That’s where their offense struggles most. They score most of their points off fast breaks, and from the free throw line. If the Mavs can force the Heat into a stagnant offense then the series will be much easier.

Then there is the interior defense that needs to step up. Tyson Chandler will really be tested this series. He’s facing off against the persistent rebounder in Joel Anthony. Don’t underestimate him based on size or age. This guy definitely makes an impact. He grabs

rebounds when it matters and is always a pest down low.¬† Tyson Chandler will have to keep an eye on him while trying to stop D-Wade and Lebron’s penetration.

J.J Barea will be a very important piece of the puzzle for Dallas if they want to win. We all know Miami’s bench is one of the worst in the NBA, while Dallas has one of the best benches in the league. He has made players like Russell Westbrook and Brandon Roy look like inexperienced rookies with his dribble penetration and crafty layups.

He’s going to need to lay it all on the line this series when he plays against inexperienced bench players like Mario Chalmers. He’s going to have to know his mismatch at the point guard against Mike Bibby as well. He has to try and drive by him on almost every possession that will bring the interior defense out and give open shots to Jason Terry on the outside.

Then there is the three point shooting. Dallas made it clear that they are a three-point threat to be reckoned with. After knocking down 20 three pointers in the conference semi-finals against Los Angeles they made a statement to future teams that they should be scared of their three point talent. They have to keep that up this series. Miami has great perimeter defenders like Mike Miller, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade. It might be hard for them to penetrate so their three point shot is going to have to be working for them to produce.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned Dirk in this. Well it’s because there is nothing different he has to do, he can’t step up anymore than he already has. He has been clutch, he has knocked down timely buckets, passed well out of the double team and led Dallas to the finals. We all know he is going to take Bosh apart. He has to do it with confidence, he has to realize this may be his last legitiment chance at a title and I think he knows what he has to do.

The Heat have keys that are a bit more simple.

Lebron and D-Wade must take over this series. Due to them being the best players on the court they have to take advantage of their match-ups.

It’s really no competition on the perimeter.

They can’t handle them, the Mavericks don’t have a Luol Deng or a Shane Battier kind of player. They need to run all over them, get them off the dribble, draw fouls. Anything to take over the perimeter.

Then they need Udonis Haslem to step up off the bench. When he produced for the Heat in game 2 against the Bulls the Heat killed in the 3rd quarter. He is such a¬†versatile player and really stretches defenses because he has a mid range shot as well as a mean post game. If he can produce like he did in game 2 then the Heat’s bench production and confidence will go up immensely as well as their chance of winning.

Also, they need James Jones and Mike Miller’s three point production. The Heat’s three point percentage in the playoffs has been terrible their shooting around 30%. The Mavericks bench will kill the Heat’s bench if they can’t make their threes. Making their threes not only keeps the defenders on their toes more, but makes it easier for Lebron or Wade to pass out of the penetration, or when they blow by their man.

It’s these things that will separate the two teams in this series. Whoever can execute these keys the best then they’ll have the best chance of glory and pride.

Changes Needed: Magic

They were considered title contenders. Dwight Howard was in the running for the MVP. They were prepared, they thought the Hawks would be a piece of cake. Then they lost in 6. Dwight Howard may be a top 5 player in the league but he can’t win the NBA finals by himself. He can win the defensive player of the year 3 times in a row but he can’t defend a whole team. He needs help, if the Magic want to keep him in 2012 then they have to provide a roster around him that can win a championship.

They need perimeter defenders. Honestly their perimeter defense is horrible, the only reason their a good defensive team is because when the players blow by the perimeter defenders, they have Dwight Howard to block the shots. They need to change their identity. They can become the best defensive team in the league if they get some gritty perimeter defenders. Think about this defensive lineup for a second. Tony Allen, Shane Battier, Thabo Sefolosha, Brandon Bass and Dwight Howard. Good luck scoring on them. They just need some players who pride themselves in defense, they have none of those players playing the perimeter. They need to change their mindset. Just tweak it from a gunning offensive game to a lockdown defensive game. Their already a good defensive team but if they think about it more they can be much more successful. Then they need a clutch scorer. Jason Richardson isn’t a clutch scorer, he may have had one or two game winning shots but that’s inconsistency. Hedo Turkoglu isn’t good under pressure. Dwight Howard is too easy to stop in a clutch situation because they can double him in the post. They need a scorer, someone they can depend on, someone they know can bail them out in sticky situations.

The biggest necessity for the Magic is a backup point guard. Gilbert Arenas is a washed up player with a limited offensive game and not enough speed on defense. Jameer Nelson isn’t even that good of a starter and they don’t even have a solid backup. The point guard is the most important position in the game. They’re the closest version of the coach on the court. They call the plays, and generate the offense. They need fresh legs to operate the offense when Jameer is tired. What about a back up power forward. I guess they have Ryan Anderson but his game is from midrange and behind the three point line. They need a backup power forward who will play in the post and help Dwight protect the rim. Dwight Howard received 18 technical fouls this season. They need him, he is their best player, he can’t get into that trouble next season. Itgets him angry and isn’t good leadership for his teammates who look up to him to lead the way. His maturity has to improve. We all know he gets hit 8-10 times a game, but he’s 6’11, he is the most ripped guy in the NBA and he is playing a physical sport for a career. He can’t get so mad about guys hitting you, he should think of it as being unstoppable. His maturity must improve as well as his way of handling his anger.

They were the biggest disappointment of the whole season. The 4th seed losing in 6 games in the first round was hard to watch. They need to change, and fast. This team might need changes the most because they’re already elite so if they don’t adjust they could be kicked right out of the elite status. If they want Superman to stay in Orlando then they have to get it together. This is a must win season for the Magic.

Grizz Without Gay.

When the playoffs began, nobody, I repeat nobody would’ve thought that the Memphis Grizzlies would be entering a tough game 7 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semi-finals. It seemed like mission impossible, it seemed like wishing on a star, but the fans in Memphis definitely got their wish.

All of this happened without Rudy Gay. Their young budding superstar. He and Zach Randolph were supposed to lead this team to greatness, together. They were going to be the one-two punch that would lead Memphis deep in the playoffs. Then Gay suffered a left shoulder injury against the 76ers on the 15th of February. That was the end they thought, the Memphis hopes died down, and they didn’t expect to go very far. Then they signed Shane Battier, got Tony Allen to step up on defense, got Gasol to play more aggressively in the post. When they adjusted to playing without Gay, they were back in business.

Throughout the postseason, they have been known for they’re play on the boards, their tough defense, they’re hustle for loose balls, they’re tough low post presence, and they’re hunger for winning. All of this without Gay. When Gay got injured they focused their offense more on Zach Randolph and focused their game more on defense then offense. How would they have played this postseason without Gay? There are many different vantage points we could look at it from. One, if they had Rudy Gay then they would have their offense focus on the offensive drives of Rudy Gay and the low post skill of Randolph. Which would help to spread the floor, and give the offense more options. It would also make it harder for teams to double team Z-Bo because then you have Rudy Gay wide open for a shot. If you look at it like that then they could kill teams with their offense as well as their defense. Or we could look at it like this. Rudy Gay wouldn’t put in enough effort on defense that the Grizzlies are known for. He is a strong perimeter defender, but don’t expect him to dive into the stands after a loose ball, or dive on the floor for a steal. He’s just not that type of player, but hey, not a lot of budding superstars are. With all of his playing time, then Tony Allen and Shane Battier wouldn’t play as much, therefore all those hustle plays that have helped them get this far wouldn’t have happened.

I hate hypotheticals but you have to wonder how Rudy would have effected their play in the playoffs. There is an upside and a downside. For now, good luck Grizzlies, and get better Gay.