NBA Finals Preview

The Finals start in roughly 20 minutes so I need to make this quick, simple, and to the point…

I want the Mavs to win.  I will root for the Mavs to win.  More importantly… I think the Mavs will win.

Sorry, Miami “fans.”

Don’t disregard my stance on this series as Cleveland bias against LeBron James and his fellow Heaters.  This isn’t about that.  This isn’t about me wanting to hate on the once chosen one.  No, this is about me believing in a player that in all honesty is playing like a man possessed.  That player would be Dirk Nowitzki.

The big German is playing out of his freaking mind in these playoffs and in the process has single-handedly propelled the Dallas Mavericks to within 4 wins of the title.  Adding to the drama of the series that’s about to unfold is, of course, the storyline involving LeBron and his alleged shot at redemption…whatever that means… but more so the fact that this is a rematch of 2006.  For those of you that don’t recall the 2006 Finals, let’s just say the Heat have been displaying the Mavs trophy in their trophy case the past 5 years.  Dallas was robbed by what can only be called suspicious circumstances which just happened to include a referee who went to prison for betting on games he was working.  To say there is bad blood here would be an understatement.  The only fan base that may come close to truly hating the heat as much as Cleveland is Dallas because well… there’s a history here.  But back to the matter at hand.

The Mavs will only go as far as Dirk can carry them.  The question for Miami ultimately becomes, “how the hell do we stop Dirk?”  In all honesty, I don’t think they can.  He’s bigger than every perimeter player Miami can throw at him and he’s faster and more athletic than any big man brave enough to attempt it.  In 2006 Udonis Haslem pushed Dirk around.  Dirk is a different player now.  He’s bigger, stronger, and has more of an edge.  He’s not going to stand by and allow lesser players to dictate what he wants to do.  He’s experienced too much heartache and failure in the 5 years since his last finals appearance.  It’s made him a better player.

In the process of leading these Mavs to the Finals, Dirk has reinvented himself as the confident leader who can single handedly will his team to victory.  Look no further than his performances against the Lakers and Thunder as exhibits A and B.  He may not admit it, but winning the finals will forever change how we define Dirk’s career.  He’s already the greatest foreign player in league history, he’s making an assault on Larry Bird for the title of greatest white player, winning a title could put him in the discussion of one of the greatest ever to play the game… and he’s not done yet.  He has a few more solid years to go and even then who knows.  With his outside shot, Dirk could stick around for years after his prime.

But for now Dirk is a mere four wins away from rewriting how we look at him and removing himself from the company of Barkley, Ewing and Malone, the greatest players to never win a title.  Does he care?  He says no, but his play says different.  You can tell that he understand where he’s come and what he’s lost throughout his career.  He knows that these opportunities are few and far between.  This is something LeBron has also realized, but unlike LeBron, Dirk accepted the challenge head on and stayed with Dallas… stayed on his own.

In so many ways this finals seems like a battle of good an evil.  Dirk and the Mavs playing the role of the good guys.  A group of lovable players, may of whom have had and lost opportunities.  On the other hand is Miami, the Evil Empire, rising in dressed in black with three players who have displayed egos larger than life and become everything that people despise in sports and the NBA.  Adding to the big three is the group of mercenaries brought in on the cheap to compliment them.  Is that fair?  Maybe, but that’s the story people are penning.  Again, more drama.

So in two weeks, when this is all said and done who will reign victorious?  My prediction… Mavs in 6.  In the end LeBron will walk off defeated once again, headed to yet another post season of what if’s and what could have been’s.  Dirk on the other hand will add to his resume as a champion and finals MVP.

…And all of Cleveland will rejoice.  Go Mavs!

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