I'm a bit hesitant to begin this with an "I told you so," but I can't let it pass without patting myself on the back. I told you so. Well, OK, if you're going to be technical about it I said they weren't going to win the East but I knew they couldn't win the Championship. The Miami Heat's frailties were evident from the beginning of the year when I claimed that the team still had a lot of work to do to reach elite status…..but just to show you that I'm not a complete hater I admit they were the best team in the Eastern Conference this year, I was wrong about that. A Boston side that was altered at mid-season helped the Heat drastically and the Bulls relied on Derrick Rose too much. Miami simply had too much firepower for those sides to match.
Coming up against the Dallas Mavericks though showed that a champion team will always defeat a team of champions. In Miami's case their Big Three just didn't have enough muscle to outlast the Mavericks depth. A Dallas team I may add that was missing Caron Butler and Roddy Beaubois for the entire playoff run and had Brendan Haywood miss a good portion of the Finals. Their depth was just too much for the Heat to handle. Dallas received considerable contributions from DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea, even Ian Mahinmi and Brian Cardinal earned their Championship rings with telling contributions while for Miami it was often the Big Three and no-one else. At times it was just the Big Two with Wade and Bosh as James struggled to assert himself on the offense end. Give credit to Dallas gameplan, executed to a tee. LeBron James was never allowed to get into a rhythm and became a bystander when he should have been leading the way. Despite a solid series even Dwyane Wade struggled in Game 6 to the point where he looked uncomfortable on the offensive end. The Mavs zone closed off driving lanes for the duo forcing them to become jumpshooters, which proved successful. James outside shot still needs considerable work to make it consistent.
Three of the reasons I gave as to why the Heat couldn't win the East were, bench depth, scoring and regular season form v playoff basketball. Miami's stars struggled but when they needed help from their role players no-one stepped up. In previous years Championship winning sides have had someone other than their stars play well. In 2008, PJ Brown and Eddie House for Boston, Trevor Ariza in 2009 and to a lesser extent Ron Artest last year. Where was the Miami cavalry this year? When even their stars struggled the Heat needed somebody else to score. Dirk had a shocking shooting night in Game 6 but Jason Terry made sure his presence was felt, making 11 of 16 shots.
The Heat could get by in the early rounds of the playoffs off Wade and James athleticism and talent alone, but by the time Dallas came around they were exposed. Beating a deep, veteran team 4 out of 7 is just too much. Dallas team defense suffocated Miami. Even when LeBron was double teamed and a pass was made to a teammate, the Dallas players rotations were quick and they closed out on shooters.
The better team won the series and all is right with the world once again, the Mavericks were keyed in and focused. Their run began late in the regular season winning the last four games before finding form in the first round of the playoffs. Seemingly in trouble when tied with the Blazers at 2-2, the Mavs found another gear and Dirk Nowitzki was playing as if he was one of 'Space Jam's' Monstars, crushing all before him. Miami didn't play badly really but the longer the series went the more evident it was they still need work as a unit.
They'll re-tool for next year, already the rumor mill has them trading for Dwight Howard or somebody of that ilk and rest assured they will get better with time. But right now it is the Mavericks time and it's well deserved. Congratulations to the better team in the NBA Finals.