2006 NBA Championship rematch Miami Heat vs Dallas Mavericks...D-Wade vs Disco Dirk II...Pat Riley vs Mark Cuban II...Of course round II also features brand new names to the big stage as the only other returners are Jason Terry for the Mavs, and Udonis Haslem for the Heat...LeBron James has been to the Finals once before, but guys like Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler make their Finals debut...Even the Coach match-up is different - go from Riley vs Avery Johnson to Erik Spoelstra vs Rick Carlisle
The story is well known of how this Heat team was built in the 2010 summer-o-fun in the Association...This Mavs team had been bounced in Round 1 in 3 of the last 4 seasons, they added Tyson Chandler to be their last line of defence, and re-signed Brendan Haywood
These are 2 teams that were very similar in how they won games in the regular season...Both teams put D-first...Both teams defended the 3-point shot very well...Neither team created a ton of turnovers, but both teams forced tough shots (that part really continued in the playoffs for both teams)...Similar rebounding squads too
On O again we have similarities...Both teams had great regular season FG %...Both teams struggled to be effective on the offensive glass...Both teams averaged over 100 points per game
The Mavs beat the Heat both times they played this season...Normally looking at 2 games in a 82 game schedule is short-sighted, but it is interesting to note that the only 2 losses the Heat had in a 22-2 run from the end of November '10 through the beginning of 2011 were to Dallas...Actually the Mavs have won the last 14 times these 2 teams have played in the regular season...What really stood out in the 2 meetings this season was the crazy level of the back-and-fourth runs...NBA is normally a game of runs, but these two teams were colliding and trading mega runs...14-2, 13-0, 17-0, 10-0, 12-0 kind of runs...One thing that will be significantly different in the Finals is the Mavs will be without Caron Butler, who was great in both W's this season vs Miami...D-Wade was very good for Miami in both games
Miami won exactly 1 more game than Dallas in the regular season so Games 1,2,6,7 will be in South Florida, with Games 3,4,5 in the Lone Star State (NBA Finals only series in sports that switches from 2,2,1,1,1 format to 2,3,2)...In the 2006 series the Mavs cruised at home to W's in Game 1 and 2, but the Heat took full advantage of the format change that had them with Game 3,4,5 at home (all Miami W's)...This season it will be Dallas with the opportunity to host the middle 3 and potentially take control of the series
Miami has played teams in this playoff run that can defend as well (perhaps better) as Dallas, but they have not played a team that can shoot as well...The Mavs have buried the Blazers, Lakers, Thunder with long range bombs and the Heat will need to have an emphasis on perimeter D...Of the 3 opponents the Heat have dispatched it is likely the Celtics that best resemble Dallas on the perimeter as far as ability/potential and Miami was bad in their D attack vs the shooters in that series...The thing is Miami was so much better in every other area that the D issues on the shooters was not exposed...That would be dangerous against Dallas...The Mavs have so many more weapons, and those weapons are h-o-t...Sure Disco Dirk has been outstanding, but The Jet, Peja, J-Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Juan Barea, and The Matrix have all been major contributors for the Western Conference Champs...
For Dallas the concern is that the only 3 games they have lost in these playoffs were similar in that it took an amazing effort and huge game from an individual player to beat them...Brandon Roy, Wesley Matthews, and James Harden all stepped up their game and filled the basket and led the team to a W...The Miami Heat offer D-Wade and Bron Bron, plus perhaps Chris Bosh, as guys who can put up even bigger/better games than those prev players, and the Heat Big 3 certainly has the talent to do it every game...Scary...If Miami can get a contribution from either Joel Anthony or Udonis Haslem, plus get a contribution from Mike Miller and/or Mario Chalmers on the perimeter then they may be the only team capable of beating this red-hot Mavs team...The challenge for Dallas will be how do they keep ALL of LBJ, D-Wade, CB4 at livable #'s while continuing to shoot at a level high enough where they won't miss a dynamic scorer like Caron Butler...
We see challenges here for both coaches...Coaching will be huge in this series...The NBA playoffs are all about game-to-game adjustments...Kobe Bryant says the team that lost the previous game in the playoffs has the advantage next game as they know what adjustments need to be made, and they are perhaps hungrier and more focused (sense of urgency)...In 2008 I was impressed and amazed as the in-game, and game-to-game adjustments that Doc Rivers made were better than legend Phil Jackson...In this series I would anticipate Rick Carlsile being the better coach and being able to make the better adjustments...
Miami will need their Big 3 to be superb...For me I think Dallas is shooting at a Championship level, and defending well too...Mavs have so many X-factors that can add to what you can already expect daily from Nowitzki, Kidd, and Terry (even a guy we haven't yet mentioned like DeShawn Stevenson can be streaky and get hot)...Dallas too deep...Dallas too well coached...Dallas in 5