Bold Prediction: LeBron James Will Not Win An NBA Championship This Year
For the record, this isn’t the first time I’ve picked the Dallas Mavericks to beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. Back on April 15th, I made five bold predictions for the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Not all of them were correct (sorry, Knicks fans—ha!). But one of them was that the Mavericks would end up in the NBA Finals. And another was that the Heat would make it to the NBA Finals but not take home the ‘chip.
“That means it’ll be the Heat playing the Mavericks,” I wrote, “and we’ve got the Mavs taking the title? D’ah well. We told you this year’s NBA Playoffs were going to be interesting.”
Turns out, that wasn’t such a ridiculous prediction on my part. Tonight, the Heat host the Mavs in Game 1 of the NBA Finals with both Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas and LeBron James of Miami going for their first NBA titles. By the middle of June, one of them will have their name firmly entrenched in NBA history, while the other is forced to continue to wait for a chance at getting his name in the history books. And for our money, we’ve got the Mavs taking it to the Heat and coming out on top in this series in six games. But don’t just take our word for it (though, maybe you should have done that the first time!). Here are five reasons we’ve got Dirk and Dallas hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy this season…
1. No one—not even LeBron James!—can stop Dirk Nowitzki right now.
Dirk is a beast right now. If the Mavs need a bucket, all they need to do is dribble down the court, get the ball to Dirk, and let him go to work. He’s literally been unstoppable in the playoffs this year. And even if the Heat decide to stick LeBron on him for a few possessions, we still think he’s got enough height on him and the right arsenal of moves to get the ball in the hoop. In fact, don’t be surprised if ‘Bron picks up a few tips from Dirk over the course of this series (work on your low post moves, son!).
2. Dallas has a cast of role players that can score, which is something the Chicago Bulls couldn’t do in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat.
The Bulls’ fatal flaw in the ECF was that when it got down to crunch time and Derrick Rose was well-covered, they couldn’t find anyone else to score. That won’t be the case against the Mavs. From Jason Terry to the ever-elusive J.J. Barea, this team knows how to score. They’ve done it against the best in the West and we fully expect them to continue to score points in bunches against the Heat.
3. Tyson Chandler has helped the Mavs put an extra emphasis on playing tougher defense in this year’s NBA Playoffs.
In past years, the Mavs D was suspect at best—and awful at its worst. However, the addition of Chandler has both solidified the paint (no more Erick Dampier!) and given the Mavs an extra shot of intensity on the defensive end of the court. They’ll obviously need that extra defensive firepower to cover the Big 3 and limit the amount of quality shots they get each game.
4. Two words: Jason. Kidd.
This is J-Kidd’s moment. He’s been to the Finals before in a losing effort, so he knows what it’s like playing on the big stage. He’s got the experience necessary to either contribute during the Mavs’ run—or hang back and let other guys steal the spotlight. And he’s facing a bunch of mediocre point guards from the Heat that won’t be anywhere near as savvy as he is on the court. Look for him to dominate one way or another.
5. It’s not the Heat’s time to shine just yet.
We don’t doubt that, when it’s all said and done, LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh will have fists full of championship rings. They’ll be great for years to come and, like it or not, they have what it takes to build a dynasty down in Miami. But we think that’ll give Dallas all the motivation they need to get the job done this year. So give us the Mavericks in six. And, please: Don’t sleep on our prediction this time!