Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Hoop & The Harm: A Look at the NBA Finals

Only two teams remain in the NBA as the battle for the Larry O’Brien Trophy gets underway tonight between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks.

Some of the key players from the 2006 championship series remain, but Dwyane Wade is of course now joined by LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and the Mavs are a completely different side, minus Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry who still remain from that year’s runner-up.

The big question for me coming into this year’s final is who will be more dominant – Dirk or LeBron?

One thing I love about watching Nowitzki play the game is that he is dangerous from just about anywhere on the floor and he’s one of those players who seems to be able to find the basket from wherever he decides to shoot from. It’s not always the prettiest thing to watch, but he has been clutch so far in these playoffs.

LeBron James, on the other hand, has really stepped his game up in the past few weeks and is definitely playing like a guy who wants a championship more than anything else in the world. He doesn’t think he’s better than Michael Jordan at this point in his career, despite what others say, but a dominant performance in this series would be a good start!

One of the quirks of the NBA Finals is the 2-3-2 format, with the first two and last two (if necessary) games being played at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, and the middle three going at Dallas’ American Airlines Center. As NBA.com's John Schuhmann points out, that’s not a good thing for the Mavs though:

Not that this stat necessarily means anything, but since the 2-3-2 format was brought in back in 1985, the road team has won only 6 of a possible 26 titles. Then again, Miami was one of those teams back in 2006 against Dallas, so Dirk and company know it can be done!

Whatever the outcome, history will be made in game one of the series when Jason Kidd becomes the oldest guard to start an NBA Finals game at 38 years old. It’s not quite Mark Recchi (who is only the second oldest NHLer to play for the Stanley Cup at 43), but that is still impressive!

If the Heat go on to win this thing, it’ll be an especially painful offseason for Dallas’ Jason Terry – he’s the guy with the Larry O’Brien Trophy tattoo on his arm. He told ESPN this weekend that if they lose, he’ll have the ink removed. He says that will hurt more than having it put on, for obvious reasons.

To help get you in the mood for the big game tonight, I will leave you with this: NBA.com has put together a compilation of the top 10 moments from the Heat and the Mavericks so far in these playoffs…but here is something I hope we don’t see at all in the finals:

Which was worse – the LeBron simulation or the Chris Bosh dive against the Bulls back in February?

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