The 2011 NBA Playoffs have been all about spring cleaning. Out with the old and in with the new. The Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and the Boston Celtics have all gone fishing earlier than expected. The three franchises responsible for 10 of the last 12 championships began to show their age.
Kobe Bryant (14 years), Tim Duncan (13 years), Ray Allen (14 years) and Kevin Garnett (15 years) couldn't rekindle the magic of playoffs past when they needed it the most. The years of championship basketball, international play and injuries have taken their toll.
Father Time catches up with everyone eventually and these four future Hall of Famers have nothing to be ashamed of. Their accomplishments speak for themselves (11 rings between them) and we'll think of them fondly as the playoffs progress.The early departure of these three great teams has cleared the path for the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks to meet in the Finals. Here are five reasons Miami will walk away victorious.
1. Miami eliminated Boston.
The Miami Heat cleared the biggest obstacle on their way to the championship by beating their arch nemesis the Boston Celtics in the second round. It was a major psychological hurdle to overcome and the Chicago Bulls will seem like child's play in comparison.
Derrick Rose will give the Heat fits, but the Bulls lack a dominant post presence and that's Miami's biggest weakness.
2. D Wade and Lebron are playing well together. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade learned how to play together and put the problems of the regular season behind them. Each player takes the game over in spurts as opposed to stepping on each other's toes. They both seem relieved they don't have to take all the shots for their team to win.
3. Mark Cuban. As a passionate fan and owner Mark Cuban, has the tendency to say or do the wrong thing at the wrong time. Whether it's criticizing the refs, fighting with David Stern or calling out the opposing team's best player, rest assured Mark Cuban will do something to cost his team a critical game.
4. Home court in the finals. There's nothing like the piece of mind that comes with playing a Game 7 at home in front of a roaring crowd. The Heat players feed off the energy and the fans give them confidence. With the 2-3-2 format of the Finals, the Heat understand that once they weather the storm in Dallas, victory is theirs.
5. Dirk Nowitzki. Like the Miami Heat, the Dallas Mavericks also took care of their arch nemesis by eliminating the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round. It was a major accomplishment, but winning the NBA Finals is a different story. I don't think Dirk Nowitzki has ever fully recovered emotionally or psychologically from the 2006 meltdown. When the bright, bright lights come on Dirk, will succumb to the pressure of the moment and come up short.