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Old 05-30-2011, 04:16 PM   #18
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Default Re: Random thoughts on the playoffs-

It's certainly easier to imagine the Heat winning than the Mavs. They're more athletic, they've looked dominant defensively, and their stars are young.

I predicted Miami to easily take the ECF. I never really believed in the Bulls. They reminded me of Dallas a few years ago. Regular season All-Stars but not playoff-ready. Anyone who juxtaposed the level of competition and game play between the Miami-Boston series and Chicago-Atlanta series could easily see that neither Chicago nor Atlanta would be prepared to face Boston or Miami in the ECF. It was clearly evident that Boston's and Miami's play and skill was on a different level. Also, the Bulls have this tendency to play down to their level of competition. They should've been blowing offensively undisciplined teams like Atlanta and Indiana, but instead let them hang around till the end. Once they faced a team with real closers, it would be the end of them.

That said, this Dallas team has been surprising. I always knew that Dirk was an offensive powerhouse, but he's clearly more advanced now than ever. He used to get almost all of his points off faceups, but now he's comfortable at catching it with his back against the basket and taking a good shot (for him it's a good shot) from all angles and from any point within the three point line. I've never seen that before. When a guy can catch it at 30 degrees, 20 ft from the basket and fade away, all net... It's scary. Dirk catching it at 15-18 ft away from the basket is like Tim Duncan catching it 5 ft from the basket. The greatest advantage to this is that he's no longer bothered by shorter defenders. Teams used to put wing defenders on Dirk (Bruce Bowen, Stephen Jackson, T-Mac) and it'd work for stretches because they were able to keep up with his quickness and slap away at the ball. Watching him absolutely destroy Thabo (who I think is the best wing defender in the league currently) by pinning him down and shooting over him was amazing. It's why I think Miami's plan of putting LeBron on Dirk won't work. While LeBron has the strength edge, it's not going to matter if Dirk is shooting over him with range up to 18 ft.

That said, I'm not 100% sure who will win the championship.

Few things I think will be the key to the series:

-Bench play: How will Terry/Peja/Barrea/Haywood stack up against Chalmers/Miller/Jones/Haslem? I think Dallas' group is more diverse and talented, but Miller and Haslem provided the right amount of spark and fire to win games last series. Miami plays the pick and roll beautifully so I wonder if JJ will be able to get all the points that he did against the Lakers/OKC. Wade, Chalmers fight through screens or LeBron and Bosh are long and slide their feet well if they are to switch. I'm not sure if I think JJ will be able to wreak as much havoc as he did in WC playoffs. Terry will always get his though. That guy doesn't miss open shots and is great off the dribble as well as catch and shoot. I give the edge to Dallas cause they can get consistent offense, even if it's only Terry.

-Will Miami make Dirk play defense: It amazes me that only Portland so far has tried to make Dirk play defense. The Lakers never really did (but that could also be because Pau was a ***** all series), and Dirk let Collison and Serge have all the open midrange jumpers in the world. While Dirk isn't the chair he used to be, he hasn't really been made to play defense. I also wonder if he will be this next series. I'm almost certain that Tyson Chandler or Haywood is going to guard Bosh, while Dirk is left with Haslem or Joel Anthony. I think this is an advantage for Dallas because if Dirk doesn't have to play defense, he can just coast until he gets on the offensive end and do his damage.

-Does Dallas have enough defensive stoppers to slow down Wade? I think the biggest defensive key for Dallas should be Wade. If you make LeBron the only unanswerable defensive assignment, they should be able to gut out wins. Stevenson will have to be able to stay infront of Wade to at the very least hold him to 20 or so points on average shooting. I wonder if they'll go to Corey Brewer. He's quick and long and there were times where I thought he was their best defensive wing talent. Offensively, he can't really help which is why I assume he doesn't get that much playing time, but if a combination of Stevenson, Kidd (though he's too aged at this point to be guarding Wade), and Brewer can keep Wade checked for 2-3 games, it'll change the entire makeup of the series.

-Miami's ball denial - Miami's been one of the best teams at ball denial that I've ever seen. I wonder if this will bother Dirk. If they'll force him to catch it over the top (which I have yet to see a team do consistently) or apply more pressure so that he has to work on just getting the ball. Miami's rotation has been excellent, so even if LeBron or Bosh makes Dirk catch it over the top, be sure that Haslem or Joel Anthony is right there to meet Dirk at the rim, with Wade/Chalmers cheating and sliding over to possibly intercept a pass.

-Dallas needs to pound them with their height. Dallas with Dirk, Tyson, and Haywood are way taller than anyone on Miami. Force it inside for easy dunks and layups. Even if Tyson and Haywood are not consistent offensive talents, they should be int here for putbacks and offensive boards. No point in having so many 7-footers if you're not going to use them effectively. Miami hasn't seen a team this tall, athletic, and long. It's time to let them feel short.

-Reffing - I hate to admit this as a factor, but it really is. And it may be the biggest factor. Let's face it. Miami and Dallas have seen differently reffed games up to this point. Miami has faced more physical teams so they've been able to get away with reaches, swipes, and overall being more active on defense. Meanwhile, Dallas has faced more offensive teams where they've been getting benefit of calls such as touch fouls, loose ball fouls, etc. If the refs let Miami be physical, then Dallas will be disrupted entirely. However, if Dallas gets the benefit of calls (and I don't mean phantom fouls, I mean those 50/50 subjective calls), it could throw Miami's aggressive defense off--which has been their staple all playoffs.

I really don't know who I think will win the series. I want Dallas and I can logically make up reasons while they'll win. They're more of a team, they've got a better cast, and they're bigger inside.

Meanwhile, Miami is better defensively, has possibly the two best players in the series, have home court, and are more athletic.

Deep down my gut says Dallas, and I'll stick to that. Dallas in 6.

Last edited by wang4three : 05-30-2011 at 04:18 PM.
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