2006 NBA Finals Preview


One thing is for certain, whichever team wins the NBA crown this year will be in new territory. In fact, both of these clubs are already strangers in paradise, with neither ever having made it to the finals before.

Miami and Dallas are primed for this last series as both enter it playing their best ball of the entire season. Dirk Nowitzki has proven to be one of the most potent playoff forces on the hardwood in years, doing just about anything and everything to help his club win. For the Heat, Shaq has shown that he’s still a major power in the league. Pounding the boards, hitting from the paint and leading by example.

But this series does not come down to two men alone; it is definitely about who has the better team and right now that question is unanswerable. Miami’s Dwayne Wade has been dominant throughout the post-season. Going up against him will be the Mavs swingman Josh Howard, a master of defense who will have to shut down the master of offense, D-Wade. That’s a good match-up for Dallas.

Who on the Heat can stop Jerry Stackhouse and Jason Terry? They possess speed and agility, something that Miami lacks. The Mavericks also have the best bench in the entire league. They can rest their starters and have fresh players like Devin Harris and Keith Van Horn running up and down the court—scoring, defending and spelling the starters. Miami does not have the luxury of that type of backup.

Udonis Haslem against Dirk Nowitzki—who wins that one? Haslem has to shut down the power forward without getting into foul trouble. That seems almost impossible, considering how much more durable Nowitzki has been, playing an average of 9 more minutes per contest than Haslem. Also, Nowitzki has better offensive and defensive stats, outscoring Haslem by 17 points per game and also ripping down more rebounds and causing more turnovers than his opponent.

But perhaps the biggest discrepancy between Dallas and Miami is at the foul line. Both teams go to the charity stripe about 28 times per game. However, Dallas holds a huge edge, hitting 81.6% of their tries to Miami’s 67.7%. That equals between 3 and 4 more points per game than Miami. That’s enough to tip a few contests the Mavericks’ way. Especially if Dallas can tire out the Heat and then make them take careless fouls.

It takes 16 wins in the postseason for a team to become NBA champs. In seven games or less one of these clubs will win it all. If Miami can slow down Dallas while also neutralizing their bench, the Heat will have their first-ever title. But if Dallas can wear Miami down and dominate at the foul line, the championship is theirs. Miami has its best shot at victory if they can wind it up in 5 games. Going to 6 or 7 may prove too much for a team like the Heat that lacks depth and speed.

Maddux Sports Series Picks

Miami wins series 4-2

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