It’s finally time to tip it off in the NBA Finals for the Miami Heat. It’s been a season of ups and downs and criticism at every turn, but now it’s final exam time for the Heat.
More on the Heat, the Marlins get beaten like Charles Barkley at a Jenny Craig meeting, and why I am not shocked at Ohio State’s downfall.
Let’s hit the agenda like Mike Stanton hits a high fastball.
Heat: (NBA Finals, vs. Dallas Mavericks, 9:00 p.m. ABC)
This is the moment that LeBron, Wade, and Bosh came together for in the last offseason, to play for the NBA Championship.
It’s a battle of stellar defense versus high octane offense. It’s a battle of Dirk Nowitzki versus LeBron James to be the first of the two to win a ring. It’s a battle of the Heat versus the national media that ripped them at every turn.
So what are the keys to the game?
First, I want to see who guards Dirk. I heard the guys on Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio saying LeBron can’t guard him because he will get him into foul trouble. Uh, guys did you not just watch LeBron shut down a guard/NBA MVP who was supposed to get LeBron into foul trouble?
Now, that said, I don’t expect to see Dirk guarded by LeBron through the first three quarters. I fully expect to see the Heat use a guard Dirk by committee approach. Miami can toss both Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony at Dirk. Both UD and Joel will get physical with Dirk which has a tendency to get him off his game. Plus, both Joel and Udonis have the foot speed to keep up with Dirk.
Still, Dirk is going to get his 25-30 points per game in this series. It’s just going to happen, so you have to look elsewhere for ways to stop the Mavs.
It starts with Jason Kidd. He’s the point guard extraordinaire, but don’t fool yourself into thinking he’s still got the speed to stop LeBron or Wade on the dribble penetration. I expect Wade to guard Kidd down the stretch, and that means Kidd will have to go over Wade to get his shots up. Given Wade’s propensity for blocking shots, that’s easier said than done.
Next, you have to get a hand in the face of the Mavs’ three-point shooters. The Heat can’t let Jason Terry or Peja Stojakovich get hot from the outside and start bombing away.
But for the Mavs, they have a tough road ahead of them as well.
They have to figure out a way to shut down LeBron and D-Wade’s penetration without sending them to the free throw line. Now, the Mavs will try to do this with a duo of Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler down low. But, if either gets into foul trouble, it’s going to put more pressure on Dirk to try and guard the paint, which he’s not exactly great at doing.
The bigger matchup to watch will be Chris Bosh. The Mavericks don’t have anyone who can matchup with Bosh’s athleticism at the power forward position. If they put Chandler on him, Bosh will go right by him, if they put Dirk on him, Dirk will get into foul trouble, and if they put anyone else on him, Bosh will shoot right over the top of them.
And Bosh will be the key if the Mavericks go to their traditional zone defense. The zone defense allows a team with poorer athletes a chance to try and stop the more talented team. If played perfectly, the zone is nearly impossible to beat unless you have slashers and a big man who can get the outside shot.
Hmm, slashers (LeBron and Wade) big man who can hit the outside shot (Udonis and Bosh) and guys who can hit an occasional three when the defense collapses on the slashers (Mike Miller, Mike Bibby, and occasionally Mario Chalmers).
This is just a hint of what’s to come in this series.
People have been asking me for my prediction since last week so here it comes.
I fully expect the Heat to defend their home floor and steal one on the road in Dallas, this would put the series at 3-2 coming back to Miami for games 6 and 7. I don’t think the Mavs have the ability to solve Miami’s defense and the Heat will put the final nail in the coffin of this season by winning the series in 6 games.
I’ll be out there tonight at the game. Follow @CBS4miami for rapid fire updates from the arena. I’ll also try to post to Facebook and will have the first full story of the game up soon after the final horn sounds.
Marlins: (@Arizona Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m, Fox Sports Florida)
That’s the best way to describe Florida’s demolition at the hands of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Volstad got rocked early and often and the Fish were never really in the game from that point forward. 15-4, that’s gotta sting.
What’s stinging worse is the team is still without ace Josh Johnson and they have fallen 3 games behind the Phillies in the NL East and are only 1.5 games ahead of the Braves in the NL East.
Still, if I would have told you the Marlins would have been 3 games behind the Phillies at the start of June and Josh Johnson hadn’t played in two weeks, I think every Marlins fan would have said Thank You Sir May I Have Another.
If you were surprised Jim Tressel is out at Ohio State after breaking the rules, you just weren’t paying attention.
Tressel had problems at Youngstown State and got slapped with sanction there. Then he ran a dirty program at Ohio State but cloaked himself in the sweater vest and “values” and got away with it for the most part until the veil was finally raised on just how corrupt the program had become.
OSU is the same school that covered for Maurice Clarett because he could bring them a national title. They covered for Terrelle Pryor because he was a great athlete who could help them win. They chose to look the other way when athletes with no real way of affording them were driving multiple cars on campus.
Some programs are dirtier than others, and Ohio State has been exposed for being as dirty, if not dirtier than USC.
For that reason, I think the NCAA should impose penalties up to the limit of the death penalty on the Ohio State football team.
There was a complete lack of institutional control. From an athletic director who didn’t want to know, to compliance officers who weren’t doing their jobs, to a head coach who decided to lie to cover things up; it was a complete failure of the entire institution.
The NCAA won’t give them the death penalty, but they should to finally give the schools out there a reason to pause before they start breaking the rules. If a program like Ohio State is made an example of, then other programs will give serious pause to committing infractions.
OSU sold their souls for the BCS and a national championship.
Well, if you dance with the devil, eventually you’re going to get burned.
But one more thing, if history has taught us anything, it’s the cover-up is worse than the actual crime. Ask any politician, and now, just ask Jim Tressel.