Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Smarter Team

It's pretty obvious that the Miami Heat consisted of the most talented basketball players in the NBA. But time and time again the Dallas Mavericks proved that the game of basketball is won by smart players who know their role and play it well. Miami may have had the upper hand in athleticism and talent, but Dallas had intangibles which Miami could not contain.

All great teams have a great point guard. Jason Kidd was the prototypical floor general which Dallas needed to run an effective, fluent offense. How many times did you count where Jason Kidd passed up a decent shot to give a teammate an excellent shot? Several. There were instances where Kidd would catch a pass from a teammate, and before the ball was in his hands for even half a second, he had already delivered a dime to a different teammate. That's what 17 years of experience does for a team. Smart passes, unselfish play, and using your discretion wisely to make the right play. While many people see a washed up player in a 38 year old guard, I see leadership and poise in the clutch.

J.J. Barea is the prime example of an effective role player. Most people have never heard of the guy before the Finals, but the 6 foot speed demon lit up the Miami defense with excellent slashing skills and nice dishes to open players all series long.

Shawn Marion quietly averaged almost 14 points and 6 rebounds throughout the Finals, and was the key factor in the Mavericks' Game 2 upset in Miami, scoring 20 points and pulling down 8 boards. If the Mavericks didn't have Marion's outstanding efforts in Game 2, they probably would have ended up on the wrong end of the scoreboard, and buried in an 0-2 hole.

Who could forget about the big Tyson Chandler, who was rejected by Oklahoma City because of physical health concerns, nearly averaging a double-double in the series? And what about Jason Terry, who picked up the slack when Dirk struggled in Game 6, dropping 27 points on the defenseless Heat? While Miami's stars gave it their best efforts, the Big 3 just could not come up with an answer for the multiple weapons Dallas threw at them.

Props to Pat Riley, however, for doing his best to create a strong supporting cast for James, Wade, and Bosh. Adding Mike Bibby and Mike Miller were good ideas and helped Miami in doses, but the lack of a strong presence at center and still a void at the starting point guard position, the Heat could not secure a championship in the end. Miami's GM needs to look into adding experience and better role players, just like Dallas, if they want what Dallas finally has.

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