2011 NBA Finals Preview
The NBA Finals get underway this Tuesday night when the Dallas Mavericks take on the Miami Heat in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series. The first two games of this series will be played at the American Airlines Arena in Miami. It will then shift to the American Airlines Center in Dallas for games three, four, and five (if necessary).The final two games would be back in Miami if the series goes that long.
Bodog.com has opened the Heat as a 170 favorite to win this year’s title while the series price on the Mavericks is +150. The Heat are an early 4 ½-point home favorite in Tuesday’s Game 1 with the ‘over/under’ set at 187. The odds are set at 9/1 for a Miami four-game sweep and 18/1 for Dallas to take it in four straight. The odds actually favor a full seven-game series at 3/1 with the Heat winning it all. The Mavericks in seven games is listed at 13/2. The ‘over/under’ for total games in the series is listed at 5 ½ with the price on the ‘over’ at -220 and at +180 for the ‘under’.
Dallas’s toughest test this postseason actually came in the first round against Portland. It took the No.3 seed Mavericks six games to oust the pesky Trail Blazers after Dallas lost games three and four on the road. The outcome of their second-round matchup against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers was never in doubt as the Mavs shocked the Lakers with four straight wins. Oklahoma City put up a bit of a fight with a 121-112 win in Game 2 as a six-point road underdog, but Dallas made short work of that series with three straight victories over the Thunder to wrap up the Western Conference Title in five games.
The Mavericks are 12-3 straight-up in the playoffs and an impressive 12-2-1 ATS. They are 7-1 SU at home and 6-2 ATS. Dallas is 5-2 SU on the road and 6-0-1 ATS. The total has gone ‘over’ in nine of its 15 games; five at home and four on the road.
Miami’s road to the Finals has also been an impressive run. As the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference, it took out Philadelphia in five games in round one. The Heat stepped things up in the second round with a five-game series win over Boston. They won the East by beating the No.1 seed Chicago Bulls in five games at well.
Miami is also 12-3 SU this postseason and 10-5 ATS. It is a perfect 8-0 SU at home and 6-2 ATS, while going 4-3 both SU and ATS on the road. The total has gone ‘over’ in nine of the 15 games overall. It has gone ‘over’ in six of its eight home games and in three of seven on the road.
This series has its share of star power with Dirk Nowitzki lighting things up for Dallas and LeBron James elevating his talents for Miami. Nowitzki is averaging 28.4 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.7 assists a game. Jason Terry has also been a key player off the bench for the Mavericks with 17.3 points and 3.2 assists a game. The veteran leadership of Jason Kidd (9.9 points and 7.7 assists a game) is another reason that they are back in the Finals for the first time since 2006.
James is putting up an average of 26 points a game to go along with 8.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists. Dwyane Wade was fairly quiet in the series against the Bulls, but he is averaging 23.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists a game this postseason. Chris Bosh rounds out Miami’s ‘Big Three’ with 18.6 points and 8.9 rebounds. These three players have accounted for close to 74 percent of the team’s points in the playoffs.
This series will ultimately come down to which team’s stars shine the brightest. The advantage on paper goes to Miami, but do not underestimate the Mavericks’ chances to pull off the upset. Only one series has gone the full seven games in this year’s entire NBA postseason, but this should be the second. In the end, the Heat win their first title with the ‘Big Three’, but Nowitzki and the Mavs make them earn it.
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