NBA Finals: Series odds, preview and pick
Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat
Series odds: Mavs (+155), Heat (-175)
The Miami Heat became instant favorites to win the NBA title after LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach. And while their path to the Finals had some rocky moments, it’s clear they’re now playing their best basketball of the season.
The Mavericks are getting a good deal of respect from the books. Dallas is a short underdog in the series and – with apologies to the Celtics and Bulls – will be the best team Miami’s played this postseason.
Here’s a peek at how I see this series matching up:
James, Wade and Bosh account for 74 percent of the Heat’s scoring in the playoffs and it’s safe to say those three will be relied on even more in the Finals.
Miami is averaging almost 10 fewer points per game in the playoffs (92.9) than it did during the regular season (102.1) but I would argue their offense is more impressive now after succeeding in crunch time against two of the league’s best defensive teams.
Dallas has what the Chicago Bulls desperately lacked: reliable knock-down shooters. The Mavericks’ outside touch spaces the floor and shouldn’t allow Miami to pack the paint like it did against the Bulls.
The Mavs don’t suffer long scoring droughts like the Heat sometimes do. Miami has a bad habit of running too much isolation. It only helps Dallas defensively if there’s no ball movement when the Heat are on offense.
Mavs big man Tyson Chandler makes up for a lot of Dallas’ defensive shortcomings, but even with Chandler, there’s no debating who the better defensive team is.
The Heat play outstanding perimeter defense and even when opponents get past the primary defender, the defensive rotation is always there ready to contest or draw a charge. You have to give credit coach Erik Spoelstra for making defense the top priority on his team.
Dallas will show more zone against Miami to try and hide its weaker defenders, but we will see some pretty ugly mismatches when Jason Terry and Jose Barea are on the court together and one of them has to guard Wade.
The best thing the Mavs have going for them is that Miami, like every other team in the league, doesn’t have someone on its roster who can guard Dirk Nowitzki.
Please don’t assume LeBron will be able to shut down Dirk like he did Derrick Rose. The league MVP is a half-foot shorter and 60 pounds lighter than LBJ. Dirk doesn’t share those physical disadvantages.
I think this series is going to be higher scoring than most people expect. I’ll take the over in any game with a total lower than 190 without hesitating. Dallas will score at a high rate in this series and both teams will look to push the pace and get baskets in transition.
I’m leaning toward playing on the road team in every game in the series. Home court just doesn’t mean much to these two clubs. Dallas and Miami both finished with 28 away wins during the regular season and are a combined 10-3-1 against the spread on the road these playoffs.
And finally, for the series pick, give me the Mavericks in seven games.