Will Mavericks be able to beat the Heat?

Looking back on the Heat’s journey and ahead to the NBA finals

The champs from the East, the Miami Heat, are here for a reason,

Having shown determined resilience since the start of the season.

Starting out at a dismal 9-8, “King James” impressed only a few,

But from then on, the Heat buckled down to give Miami fans their due.

Clinching the third seed in the East, the Heat faced the Sixers in the first round.

Winning the first three wasn’t a large task since the boards they did pound.

Game Four went to Philly thanks to Iguodala’s commitment to strive,

But the Heat reestablished their dominance by winning Game Five.

The next test came from the Big Three of Boston and Rondo, the point guard,

But Miami responded by defending the Celtic stars with proper regard,

Game Four came down to a pivotal shot at the end of regulation,

But Pierce missed, and the Celtics lost in overtime, adding to Boston’s frustration.

Down 3-1 in the series, the Celtics marched into Miami looking for a road win,

But Wade and James were having none of that, for that would be a Miami sin.

The game was close mid-fourth quarter, and James knew it was time,

A chance for him to showcase his talents in the clutch and commit a Boston crime.

This brought on an anticipated matchup against the Bulls and Rose,

Who was lethal because of his ability to drive, get to the line, and knock down free throws.

The Bulls ran away with Game One late thanks to Rose, Deng, and the hype of the crowd,

But the Heat stole Game Two, and the Chicago crowd was no longer so loud.

Miami took the next three, each because of the late game heroics of their stars,

And it seemed like the Heat were meeting all the high expectations, all the raised bars.

Now the Heat find themselves in the final series after making it through …

The question is: Will they be able to achieve what they pursue?

Although this last question may seem easy to answer given the talent and prowess demonstrated by the Miami Heat as they cruised by the 76ers, Celtics, and Bulls, a closer examination of the weapons of the Dallas Mavericks and the player matchups between the two teams may suggest otherwise. Nowitzki’s shooting performances throughout the 2011 playoffs, the experience brought by Kidd, Terry, and Nowitzki, and the spark provided by Marion and Barea off the bench show that the Mavericks will not go down easy.

While certain questions loom for the Mavericks (Who will stop the driving and shooting of LeBron James? Who will be able to put a body on the ferocious Chris Bosh? Who will keep pace with the speedy Dwyane Wade?), there are also questions that the Heat have to answer (How do we stop Nowitzki if he makes nearly every shot he gets off cleanly? How do we defend and counter the passing game initiated by Kidd and Terry? When should we double team and when do we play zone defense against this sharpshooting team?). Miami is stocked with height and athleticism on the defensive end, especially with their Big Three. But Dallas has some defense of their own: the skill and quickness of Kidd, Terry, and Marion, and the size and blocking ability of Chandler and the forwards. In the end, the individual matchups will be crucial.

The front court battle pits Wade, Bibby, and Chalmers of the Heat against Terry, Kidd, and Barea of the Mavericks. Here, whichever group better facilitates ball movement for the half court offense will win. On the other hand, the back court matchup features James, Bosh, and Anthony of the Heat versus Nowitzki, Chandler, and Haywood of the Mavericks. Whichever squad dominates the glass and utilizes aggressive post play will probably win.

During the regular season, the Mavericks beat the Heat both times they played each other (106-95 in Dallas on Nov. 27 and 98-96 in Miami on Dec. 20). In fact, at that point in the season, the Heat lost to the Mavericks, won 12 straight games, then lost to the Mavericks again to snap their streak. Subsequently, Miami won their next nine games. It was no coincidence; the Mavericks probably were the better team then. However, the current Heat team is much different from that of the regular season. Their tenacity, late-game performance, and team play have shone throughout the playoffs. Dallas has also proven to be a more poised, disciplined team in the playoffs. After all, this is the Maverick team that swept Kobe Bryant and the second-seeded Los Angeles Lakers.

Will LeBron James accomplish what he set out to do when he decided to leave Cleveland to join Dwyane Wade in Miami? Will the Heat, with its two superstars from the 2003 NBA Draft, meet the expectations they’ve set up for themselves? We can only wait and watch. Only time will tell which team will rise to the occasion, play better team basketball, and become the 2011 NBA Champions.

Editor’s Note: Due to The Tech’s editorial deadlines, this article was necessarily written prior to the June 2 Mavericks v. Heat game.