Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NBA Finals Preview/Picks: Heat in 7

The narrative for the NBA for the next half-decade was set last July when LeBron (and, to a lesser extent, Chris Bosh) went to Miami to join Dwyane Wade.

Everything would be framed around that decision/Decision -- if the Heat fell short of an NBA title, it would be schadenfreude of the highest order. It would be about the Heat losing, not [Champion X] winning. The narrative would look ahead to next year, or the year after, or the year after. They would win eventually.

And if the Heat won an NBA title -- most specifically, if they won an NBA title immediately, in their first year together, right now -- it would be an affirmation of the strategy that brought them together: The "super-team."

I will never begrudge LeBron for leaving Cleveland to join Miami to try to win a championship. I have been looking for mega-stars to do that for 20 years -- to put winning a ring ahead of everything else.

Like everyone else, I loathe the way he did it. I can also root against LeBron and the Heat's ultimate success -- I find the "schadendfreude" narrative much more interesting than the "dynasty" one.

And so I will root against the Heat, but I can also recognize that they should win this series. It shouldn't be done as handily as the first three series -- let's hope it goes 7 games, if only for the drama -- but it will be done, a combination of the Heat's stars and the Heat's D.

For those hoping the Mavs defy the experts and the pundits and the sheer gravitational pull of the inevitability of a Heat title, I think back -- as I always do the day before the NBA Finals start -- to 2004, when I went on Around the Horn and said the Lakers would beat the Pistons in 4.

That year, the Lakers were assumed to be vastly superior to the Pistons, who -- as we all remember -- clobbered the Lakers so severely that it shifted the NBA globe a bit, permanently.

It is a good lesson that when everyone (or "everyone") says something is going to happen, it rarely turns out precisely the way they/we think it will.

And so I'll stick with Heat in 7, but root like hell for Mavs in any way possible. I'm not alone.

-- D.S.

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