The Hoops Manifesto hasn’t rounded up the Bloguin crew for a special NBA Finals edition of NBA Big Questions. Here’s what to look for when the finals kick off tomorrow night in Miami.
Contributors: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, Peaceman from Knicks Fanatics, College Wolf and Dan Bonk from TWolves Blog, Mookie from A Stern Warning, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily and Don from With Malice.
1) Who will win, in how many games, and why?
“Miami in five. The Heat just have too much talent and are superior to Dallas on both sides of the ball. The haters worst nightmare will come true. But take heed – we survived Kobe Bryant winning a ring without Shaquille O’Neal, we can whether this storm too.” – Jeff Fox
“The Heat will win in five because they are the better defensive team, period. They easily match or supersede Dallas on the offensive side. Wade had a sub-par series against the Bulls. If he brings his A game to the finals the Heat sweep Dallas.” – Peaceman
“Dallas in six. More well-rounded team, lots of heady veterans, DIRK playing like the best player in the world right now, better bench, better coach.” – Dan Bonk
“I am still going back and forth on this. Dallas has shown a new leaf and seems to be creating a new identity by the moment. They found a way to slow down the wunderkids that are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. How much different are they from Dwyane Wade and LeBron James? Well, a few years of experience. I see this as a very up-and-down series. But the Heat, I feel, might be a little more consistent defensively and that is going to be the difference, who wants to play defense. I have the Heat in six.” – Philip
“Miami in seven games. I hate to admit it, but I just think that the individual brilliance of LeBron and Wade will come through too many times to be stopped by Dallas. I’d love to see the Mavs win, behind the amazing play of Dirk Diggler and the veteran savvy of JKidd, but I just think that Miami will pull through in the end. The only way this changes… see my answer to Q3, below.” – Mookie
2) Can anyone on Miami stop Dirk Nowitzki?
“LeBron James has as good a shot as anyone at slowing down Dirk (notice I said “slowing down” not “shutting down”). But the way Dirk is rolling right now, with his crazy combination of size and skill (not to mention his insane repertoire of shots) is pretty much unstoppable” – Jeff Fox
“Dirk cannot be stopped. He will average 30+ during this series. Albeit, while losing.” – Peaceman
“No. A Heat fan suggested to me that Joel Anthony might be the man for the job. Please foo’. Unfortunately, not sure anyone on the Mavs can stop LeBron Raymone James either.” – Don
“Nope.” – College Wolf
“LeBron maybe. No one else. But LeBron is definitely not going to be able to stop Dirk like he could stop D. Rose.” – Dan Bonk
“I am very curious to see how LeBron James will match up on Dirk. We will see Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem take turns on him, but I think James may get the final call on him at the end of games. Unlike Durant, who just never seemed to find his rhythm at all in the series and picked up two quick fouls in Game One guarding Nowitzki, James is going to be much more disciplined and know how to push and prod Nowitzki. It may just be enough to slow him down when the Heat really need to.” – Philip
“Simple answer: no. He is on an unbelievable run of late and you have to bow down to his amazing efficiency. It’s a thing of beauty to watch.” – Mookie
3) Who will be the breakout star/unsung hero of the Finals (ie – anyone not named Dirk, LeBron or Dwyane)
“I’m going with Udonis Haslem. His return has given the Heat a jolt of energy, and I foresee him knocking down open jumpers and snatching some key rebounds for the Heat.” – Jeff Fox
“Mike Miller will be the unsung hero of this series if he stays healthy!” – Peaceman
“Jose Juan Barea – STUD.” – Dan Bonk
“I think Tyson Chandler could very well be an unsung hero in this series. Miami has no one that can really keep him off the glass and honestly the best way to deal with him might be to have Wade and James attack him and try to get him in foul trouble. His ability to keep those guys out of the paint could be THE key to this series.” – Philip
“Jason E Terry. This guy could be the difference between LeBron + Wade > Dirk coming true or not. His scoring punch will be a big factor and could be the defining factor of the series.” – Mookie
“They swept the Lakers. They took the Thunder in five. Dirk is playing like the playoff MVP.” – Dan Bonk
“Miami has two weaknesses: center and point guard. Jason Kidd is a veteran point guard who knows how to keep an offense humming and Jason Terry and Jose Barea are dynamic scorers off the bench. Chandler is a monster on the glass inside and should have little trouble keeping Miami out of the paint (relatively). They are not the focal points of the offense, but they are big advantages that can take pressure off of Nowitzki.” – Philip
“They have amazing depth. They have Dirk. They have a guy setting the table in Kidd who compares with very few.” – Mookie
5) Miami should feel confident heading into this series because….
“LeBron James is showing that despite Derrick Rose winning the MVP this year, he is still the best player in the world.” – Jeff Fox
“They beat the team with the MVP and best record with Wade playing terrible!” – Peaceman
“Bosh hasn’t disappeared yet. Yet.” – Dan Bonk
“They have LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Wade had a bad series against Chicago, don’t bet on it happening again in the Finals. And James is playing at an otherworldly level. Those two guys when they are playing at the top of their games are simply unstoppable. And Miami should always feel confident so long as one of them is getting it going.” – Philip
“LeBron and Wade are simply freaks of nature and will likely have about two games each where they take over the game, rendering their opponents useless.” – Mookie