I've been asked a few times, What's your prediction for the NBA Finals?
My answer in a second, but first, I want to explain how I make predictions, and it's simple. It's my gun-to-the-head pick – if someone had a gun to my head, and I had to pick a winner, who would it be?
Make a pick under those conditions, and that's a true pick. Simple. All picks should be made under this hypothetical – your life depends on it, now make your pick.
So with a gun to my head, I'm taking Miami, but I don't like it. Throughout the conference finals, when Maverick fans were saying “we want Miami” because they wanted revenge for 2006, I'm thinking, Be careful what you wish for. Yes, if the Mavericks do win a title, and if they do it by beating Miami, that would be about as perfect a story as you could write. But if the Heat win, then it's like a double punch to the stomach.
I'm not sold on Miami; in fact, I really have no idea how this series is going to go. How could I, or how could anybody? They've played twice this year, and not since December 20th. Sure the Mavs won both games, but both teams are a lot different than they were then. Then you have the differences between the Western and Eastern Conferences. The West is and has been the superior conference, so even though Miami has a better record (and home court advantage), how much of that is due to them feasting on some very bad teams in the East?
Listening to sports radio on Monday afternoon, I heard one guy say that Dallas hasn't seen the kind of defense that Miami will throw at them. He was talking as if the West were still a wide open, run-and-gun conference in which both teams always score in the 100's. Those of us who have been paying attention to the Mavs know that's not what they are anymore.
Among playoff teams, Dallas ranks 5th in points allowed per game. Miami is third. But get this: five of the top six defensive teams come from the East. That means either they play better defense in the East, or the offenses aren't as good. And this is part of the reason why I have no idea what's going to happen over the next couple weeks.
Miami scares me, because I think the Big Three get better and better the more they win. This is the year to beat them, because if they do win a title in their first year together, then all of the sudden LeBron's prediction of eight titles doesn't seem so far-fetched.
I'm very interested to see what happens. These teams haven't met in such a long time that we have no idea how they'll match up. Dallas could win in five games; Miami could win in five. It could go seven. I really don't know, and anyone who says they do is either lying or hoping to nail a lucky guess.
And here's one last thing: it's not like we can learn much from Game 1. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Chicago beat Miami by 20 in Game 1, and then lost the next four games.
Anything can happen, and I can't wait for it to start.