Which two teams will be playing in NBA Finals?

May 17, 2011

Heat vs. Mavericks

Shandel Richardson

Sun Sentinel

Even after Sunday's meltdown, the Heat still have to be considered the favorite to win the NBA title. They eventually will solve the riddle that is the Bulls and take care of business in the Eastern Conference finals. There won't be too many nights in which LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are held under 20 points.

In the West, the Mavericks are playing as well as any team in the league. These aren't the Mavs of the past, all scoring and nothing else. They play solid defense, and that will be the difference in their series against the Thunder. The addition of Tyson Chandler has made them one of the league's top defensive teams and provided a perfect complement to the scoring of Dirk Nowitzki.

So five years later, we'll have a rematch between the Heat and Mavs. It should be an entertaining series again.

sdrichardson@tribune.com

Bulls vs. Mavericks

K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

Are the Lakers and Celtics still in it? Those were my preseason — and throughout-the-season — picks.

But it's a new guard in the NBA, as evidenced by four different teams from last season reaching the conference finals. And the Bulls and Mavericks will advance.

The Bulls have too much depth, too much defense and are too strong at point guard and center — which just happen to be the Heat's biggest weaknesses — not to advance. Plus, the Heat rely too much on isolation, and the Bulls thrive on stopping teams that don't move the ball.

In the West, Dirk Nowitzki is the ultimate nightmare matchup, and the Mavericks are loaded with perimeter shooters. Jason Kidd is an ageless wonder, and Tyson Chandler finally has solidified Dallas' defense.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

Heat vs. Mavericks

Josh Robbins

Orlando Sentinel

We're headed for a rematch of the 2006 Finals.

Heat vs. Mavericks. D-Wade vs. Dirk.

The Bulls' 103-82 dismantling of the Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals was one of the most impressive performances by any team this postseason. But if the Heat beat the Bulls in Game 2, the momentum of the entire series suddenly turns.

As well as Luol Deng defended LeBron James in Game 1, I don't foresee James going 5 of 15 from the field again. And the Bulls won't continue to hit almost 48 percent of their 3-point tries.

In the West, experience and fresher legs will give the Mavericks the edge over the Thunder. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd have far more playoff experience than Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. If the Mavs hit their 3s, it will be a short series.

jbrobbins@tribune.com

Bulls vs. Mavericks

Lisa Dillman

Los Angeles Times

It will be Mavericks vs. Bulls in the NBA Finals.

Wait a minute …

Wasn't it in this space that some wise minds predicted the Mavericks were the most likely first-round upset victim?

That was so last month. The Mavericks have shaken off the old labels and demons. Since blowing a 23-point lead in Game 4 of the Trail Blazers series, they have rattled off six straight victories.

The Mavericks and Bulls are deep and unselfish. Dallas has a resourceful bench, and the Mavericks owned the best road record in the regular season.

You can't dismiss three regular-season victories by the Bulls over the Heat, and now a statement-making win in their playoff opener. Plus, power forward Carlos Boozer has managed to assert himself just in time.

ldillman@tribune.com

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