Finals schedule: Time is in ET. Miami has homecourt advantage. The real winner though, is American Airlines, which has the naming rights to both venues (Miami is AA Arena, whilst Dallas is AA Center). Just so you know, Southwest Airlines is the official airline of the NBA.
Game 1: May 31. 9pm
Game 2: June 2. 9pm
Game 3: June 5. 8pm
Game 4: June 7. 9pm
*Game 5: June 9. 9pm
*Game 6: June 12. 8pm
*Game 7: June 14. 9pm
* - if necessary
Regular Season Matchup: Dallas won both games, both were relatively early in the season (November and December). It is important to note that Caron Butler was healthy and available when they faced off. In fact, he played a vital role on both games. At the same time, Peja Stojakovic (still with New Orleans / Toronto) and Corey Brewer (still with Minnesota) were not yet with the team. Rick Carlisle has indicated that he all but ruled out him playing in the playoffs, let alone this series, but Tuff Juice has been working his darndest to make himself a option before the series is over. On the other hand, Udonis Haslem was still recovering from injury and Mike Miller was just freshly
The first meeting was in the early days of the struggles of the Heat, and the second meeting was the only loss the Heat went through on their sizzling run (which included the great fabled Lebron homecoming) that immediately followed said struggle.
What should Miami do:
1. Wade redux. Dwyane Wade pretty much had a pedestrian series against the Bulls, but he among the three had the best numbers against the Mavs in the regular season. Of course, you know what he did in 2006.
2. 2/3 clicking. There is the ridiculous stat where if the three combine for 70+ points, they are virtually unbeaten. That's the challenge of Erik Spoelstra in figuring out ways that he can maximize the offensive outputs of Wade, James and Bosh.
3. Udonis Haslem. He pretty much will be tasked to tackle Dirk Nowitzki. He, along with Joel Anthony, were vital in the low post defense, rebounding and hustle stats.
4. Outside sniping. 31 attempts from long distance in their 2nd regular season meeting. Hopefully, Mike Miller's distraction has been addressed and thus be able to focus on the task at hand. Mike Bibby has been an absolute misery, whose playoff PER has been a point of mockery on the interwebs.
What should Dallas do:
1. Three-point barrage: They killed the Lakers with it, they have not yet suffered from it. Oh, and they shot better from there against the Heat. And they have the shooters to do it. (Kidd, Terry, Stevenson, Stojakovic).
2. Offensive oomph off the bench: JJ Barea has been a postseason revelation. The Puerto Rican from Northeastern is just running rings around his defenders. The Heat might have to do to him in a lesser extent what they did to Derrick Rose. Of course, The Jet is the linchpin off the bench for the Mavs. The former Sixth Man of the Year is familiar with crossing swords with Wade.
3. Defending. Mavs held the Heat to under 42% shooting in their regular season meetings and outrebounded them (by a small margin). Can they keep that up? They have the capability to check things with Chandler, Marion, Stevenson, Brewer.
4. Dirk. This is about what he is about to do. The stigma that Dallas was screwed out of 2006. The misery of being embarrassed by Golden State. His legacy might be giving the Metroplex their first championship in the new millennium (Stars were the last team to win, via the NHL in 1999).
Prediction: Mavs in 6. This ain't your time yet, Lebron. You'll get your chance, but not now. Not this year. And with the way the Indians are playing, the hex of Dan Gilbert might just come true.