Heat in 6
When the season began most thought the Heat would be here in the Eastern Conference Finals, as their signing of LeBron James and Chris Bosh along with the re-signing of Dwyane Wade was the story of the off-season. The Bulls meanwhile were seen as a good team with the potential to make a move. They more than made a move, they posted the best record in the NBA during the regular season as Derrick Rose became the youngest MVP in league history at the age of 22.
There is no question that Derrick Rose is the future face of the NBA as he can do just everything on the court. He can score, he can dish, he can hit the three, and he can play defense. Rose is a proven winner already and there is no doubt he is already one of the best players in the league in this postseason of transition. However, Rose can’t do it by himself and if the Bulls are to beat the Heat they will need one of their other players to step it up. One good sign for Chicago is the play of Carlos Boozer in the clinching game against the Hawks had his finest effort of the postseason. If the Bulls are to take down the Big Three they will need more of the same from Boozer or Luol Deng.
The Big Three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are of course the key for the Heat. If they continue to play like they did against the Celtics they will be impossible to beat. All three rose to the occasion and played strong through out the series, as Bosh overcame nerves in Game 3 to make the key play in Game 4.
In the regular season the Bulls won all three games against the Heat, but two of three were in Chicago and the Heat have grown and gelled since these match ups. The Heat had a season of adversity and when the playoffs arrived they were already tried and tested and ready to make a run. I believe that run will continue as the Bulls despite getting to the Eastern Conference Finals have been exposed in their series with the Hawks and Pacers. Derrick Rose is a great player but he can be contained and with the Heat having three stars it will be too much for the Bulls to overcome as the NBA Finals will be coming to South Beach.
Mavericks in 7
Every October against the backdrop of the Texas State Fair; Oklahoma and Texas face off in Red River Rivalry. The Oklahoma City Thunder have only been a part of the NBA for three years, after moving from Seattle. The Mavericks have been around for three decades and already have strong rivalries with their two other Lone Star State NBA franchises. Now facing the Thunder a new rivalry is born in the Western Conference Finals.
This has been the NBA Postseason of transition as the old guard teams like the Celtics and Lakers have faded away, while new teams like the Bulls, Grizzlies and Thunder have emerged as the future of the league. As the Lakers age and as Phil Jackson heads off to meditate in Montana the Thunder are poised to take over as the team to beat in the West. Out is Kobe Bryant in is Kevin Durant who off back to back scoring titles is quickly becoming the face of Western Conference Basketball. He has an ready made side kick in Russell Westbrook, as they are both strong and athletic as they make the first of what could be many Conference Finals appearances.
The Dallas Mavericks represent the old guard though their annihilation of the Lakers best exemplified the changing of the guard. Dirk Nowitzki does not have many more miles on his legs, and this could be the last best chance for the Mavs to bring Mark Cuban a NBA Championship. However, while Dirk has been the best player at times during this year’s playoffs the Mavericks success has come from unexpected directions. Players like Peja Stojakovic and Shawn Marion have resembled the All-Stars they used to be. J.J, Barrera has come out of nowhere and been a spark off the bench whenever Jason Kidd needed a rest. Up and down the roster the Mavericks have gotten contributions from everyone and in a close hard fought series a good strong bench is the ultimate weapon.
This should be a good series and it should be a long series as it has seven games written all over it. The Thunder are the future, and this is the NBA Playoffs of change, but the Mavericks are a team on a mission and that mission will not end in the Western Conference Finals as they will move on to the NBA Finals where they hope to avenge their 2006 Finals Collapse.