Will the Mavericks or the Heat win the NBA Finals?

May 31, 2011

James will lift Heat

Shandel Richardson

Sun Sentinel

The Heat lost the regular-season series to the Celtics. They responded by eliminating the Celtics in five games. The Heat were swept by the Bulls in the regular season but came back to defeat the Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals in five games.

The Mavericks also owned the Heat in the regular season, so expect the trend to continue. The Heat will take care of the Mavs in five games to defeat them for the second time in the NBA Finals. Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki has been the best scorer in the playoffs, but Miami's LeBron James has been the best player.

James has elevated his game to make up for the struggles of Dwyane Wade. James will assure the Heat of another victory in a grind-it-out series. Expect it to play out similar to the way the Heat slipped past the Bulls. All the games will be close, but too much James in the end will be the difference.

sdrichardson@tribune.com

Mavs will take it in 7

Lisa Dillman

Los Angeles Times

Let's review. Down: Picked the Mavericks to lose in the first round. Up: Picked the Mavs to reach the NBA Finals. Down: Picked the Bulls to make the NBA Finals. Up: Picked the Heat once they got up 2-1 on the Bulls.

It's a good thing my trips to Las Vegas are limited to once a decade or so.

And now? Staying all in with the Mavericks … in seven games, to take the rematch of the 2006 Finals. The individual battles will be fascinating: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Chris Bosh/Udonis Haslem, Shawn Marion vs. LeBron James.

The Mavericks bench won't get outplayed by the Heat the way the Bulls did, and Nowitzki won't have to try to make every play for the Mavericks — unlike Derrick Rose.

ldillman@tribune.com

Miami has the numbers

Brian Schmitz

Orlando Sentinel

I'd like to pick the Mavericks for several reasons, not the least of which is to see Commissioner David Stern squirm while handing the trophy to Mavs owner and longtime antagonist Mark Cuban, who also would steal the headlines from Jerry Jones in Big D.

But I simply cannot. Dirk Nowitzki is still outnumbered, three stars to one.

As good as the Mavs were in the fourth quarter against the Thunder, the Heat have two closers in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Then they have Chris Bosh, who would be the Mavs' second-best player.

The Mavs are deeper with Jason Terry and J.J. Barea, but LeBron seldom leaves the floor.

Ever imagine what All-Star games would be like if those guys had time to play together and took defense seriously? I give you the Heat, 2010-11 champions.

bschmitz@tribune.com

Heat have too much

K.C. Johnson

Chicago Tribune

The Heat will defeat the Mavericks in six games, spoiling Dirk Nowitzki's return to the Finals and alienating anti-Heat fans everywhere.

The Mavericks are deep and are playing great, but they rely too much on outside shooting. That can be fickle. And the Heat are an excellent defensive team.

Everybody talks about Nowitzki as a nightmare matchup, but what about three All-Stars?

Chris Bosh proved in the Bulls series that if you pay too much attention to Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, he can score big.

Pat Riley will be smiling soon.

kcjohnson@tribune.com

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