Athlon NBA Finals Predictions
Staff split when it comes to naming a champ
By: Corby Yarbrough | 5/31/11, 12:59 PM EDT
The NBA Finals begin Tuesday night and the Athlon Staff is truly split between which team they think is going to hoist the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy at the end. Three things we can agree on: the series won't be a sweep, it won't go less than six games and the winner will be crowned in an American Airlines sponsored arena.
Braden Gall @AthlonBraden on Twitter
Call me crazy but I think the Mavericks win the 2006 Finals rematch. The NBA is about your time. It was Jordan's time. Then it was Shaq's time. Then it was Duncan's time. Then Kobe and KG. LeBron will has his time — maybe the next 3-6 years. But now is Dirk's time. Notwitzki is the MVP of the playoffs thus far, Dallas has a much deeper bench and supporting cast and plays dramatically better defense than it has in years past. They have a Hall of Fame point guard and the unstoppable German force scoring at will. I know how talented the Heat are and how good Bron-Bron has been in the fourth quarter (finally), but D-Wade is not playing his best ball and Dallas has a clear advantage at the 1 and the 5. They are rolling and there seems to be something special happening this year in Big-D. DALLAS in 6
Mitch Light @AthlonMitch on Twitter
Dirk Nowitzki is obviously playing incredible basketball right now, but Miami has two elite players in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and one other very good player in Chris Bosh. The Mavs simply can't match that firepower. Jason Kidd is playing at a high level, and Dallas' role players are playing their roles well, but it will be difficult for the Mavs to match the Heat's personnel. MIAMI in 6
Rob Doster @AthlonDoster on Twitter
Dirk Nowitzki is playing like a man possessed in these playoffs, averaging 32 points in the conference finals, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki will earn sweet redemption against the franchise that denied him his long-awaited title in 2006. DALLAS in 7
Charlie Miller @AthlonCharlie on Twitter
Miami is committed to defense and will be able to control Dirk. The Heat are comfortable playing defensive, grind-it-out games. MIAMI in 6
Patrick Snow @AthlonSnowman on Twitter
Both the Mavericks and Heat are playing their best ball right now. Miami has a formidable squad with the Big 3, but I like the Dallas veterans — Nowitzki, Kidd, Terry, Marion — to come through late with games on the line. The Heat may have one game in this series where they run away early, but most of these contests will be decided in the last five minutes. I trust the Mavericks to make more winning plays in those clutch situations and beat the Heat in six games. DALLAS in 6
Steven Lassan @AthlonSteven on Twitter
I think this should be an entertaining series and one that even casual NBA fans can get into. After getting LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in the offseason, this is where most expected the Heat to be, even after a slow start. The Miami defense versus the Dallas offense will be the matchup to watch. The Mavericks seem to have more depth, which could work in their favor if the series goes seven games. However, Miami has the edge in terms of home court if the series goes the full length. DALLAS in 7
Corby Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
There's part of me that says the Heat have gone through the league's top two defenses in the last two rounds and landed in the Finals against a Dallas team that certainly has improved defensively this season but is not considered a juggernaut. The other part of me when I think of Miami says: "If the Bulls had one more player to help out Derrick Rose they would be playing Dallas and not Miami." Dallas, on the other hand, has cruised through these playoffs for the most part. The Mavs have the second-best offense in the playoffs (99.7 ppg), have already lost to the Heat in their only other trip to the finals, have Games 3-5 at home and have Dirk Nowitzki. But I think the Heat have just turned on another gear in the postseason, are finally clicking and the basketball Gods put the Big Three together for a reason and this is it. MIAMI in 6
Udonis Haslem will be the pivotal difference maker in Game 5. MIAMI in 6
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