by Stephen D. Riley and Perry Green
For New Pittsburgh Courier
(NNPA)—Sequels usually aren’t as good as the original, but the 2011 NBA Finals should be an exception. The Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks will face off in a championship series for the second time since 2006, and this time around there’s a lot more star power on both rosters.
Heat star guard Dwyane Wade, with center Shaquille O’Neal as his teammate, outperformed Mavs star forward Dirk Nowitzki to win the 2006 championship, but now Wade has 2-time MVP LeBron James and All-Star Chris Bosh as running mates.
|SHARING A LAUGH—Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade, left, jokes with teammate LeBron James during a practice session May 30, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Dallas has also upgraded its 2006 roster by adding future Hall of Fame guard Jason Kidd and veteran center Tyson Chandler, along with several strong role players. So, which team is better equipped to win Miami vs. Dallas, Part II?
AFRO sports writers Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley argue it out:
Green: Let me start by saying I’m no Dallas Mavericks fan. There’s just something about owner Mark Cuban that rubs me the wrong way, so when the Mavs advanced to face the Miami Heat in the NBA Final, I instantly became a Heat fan and will be one for the remainder of the series. But as much as I dislike Cuban, I must remain a realist: the man has pieced together one hell of a team that deserves to be the favorite to win the title. All odds favor Dallas to beat Miami in every facet of the game, from scoring to rebounding to defending. This team offers so much quality, veteran talent, with two Hall of Famers in the starting lineup and several great shooters coming off the bench. It’s almost not fair how much more complete a team Dallas is compared to Miami, and that’s why the Mavericks will win in six games.
Riley: What’s not fair is what Miami will end up doing to the Dallas Mavericks for the second time in half a decade. The Heat made it this far in the postseason for two reasons: LeBron James and Dywane Wade. When you have two MVP-caliber players like that, plus a legitimate all-star in Chris Bosh contributing, what else do you need? This Miami roster has been playing the best lock-down defense we’ve seen this postseason. Defense wins championships and that’s how Miami will earn their second title in six years.
Green: No doubt, Miami has played terrific defense. But I don’t think they’ve been tested for what they’re about to face in game one on May 31. Nowitzki has put on a postseason performance we haven’t seen the likes of since Michael Jordan in his prime. When I say the man hardly ever misses, I’m being literal. Put a hand in his face, it doesn’t matter; it’s still going in. You can’t even try to beat him up defensively because you’ll only send him to the foul line where he’ll make 90 percent of his shots. Nowitzki simply can’t be stopped, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, who were swept by Dirk and the Mavericks in the second round.
Riley: Props to Dallas for sweeping the Lakers, but you don’t get anything extra for sweeping the defending champs. That’s a nice feat, but so what? The Lakers self-destructed and that’s why they were eliminated. Overall, Miami has been the more impressive team throughout the playoff. You say Dallas has a complete team, but so did the Bulls. Chicago finished with the NBA’s best record and was supposed to have the best reserve players with the most well balanced team offensively and defensively. But we saw what Miami did to the Bulls. LeBron put the clamps on MVP Derrick Rose and ended Chicago’s hopes of a premature championship appearance. Now he’ll do the same to Dirk.
Green: LeBron did a great job defending Rose, but there is a difference between guarding a 6-foot,3-inch guard and guarding the greatest 7-foot-tall shooter in the history of the NBA. But if Dirk is off, Dallas still can lean on veterans Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic and Shawn Marion, who’ve all played very well this postseason. It’s just too much to compete against.
Riley: I don’t care how many good players Dallas has on its roster. This is a superstar’s association and right now, Miami has the advantage in that category with LeBron and Wade. The only duo to counter that is Shaq/Kobe or Pippen/Jordan and since none of those four are playing, I’m going with the Heat.
(Reprinted from the Afro American.)