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NBA FInals Prediction

   by ASA - 04/24/2007

One-half of last year’s NBA Finals pairing will make a return trip while a young, fairly inexperienced team will finally break through to restore pride in one of the league’s proudest franchises.

Nope, it’s not going to be a Shaq versus Kobe battle with the Heat taking on the Lakers. It’s going to be the Mavs taking on the Bulls for the 2007 NBA Championship.

In the Eastern Conference, thoughts have been circulating around the NBA that Chicago cost itself a shot at the title when it lost its regular season finale against New Jersey, dropping the team to the fifth seed in the conference. While the road to the Finals may be more arduous, the Bulls have the makeup to overcome any obstacles.

Chicago (+$485 to win the East) enters the playoffs as the most well-rounded team in its conference. No other team in the Eastern Conference has as good of a balance between a proficient offense and a strong defense than the Bulls. Among the Eastern Conference contenders, they are third in scoring offense and third in scoring defense.

The Bulls are also very efficient on both ends of the floor as they shoot high percentages on offense and hold the opposition to low percentages on defense. They also control the boards as they are eighth in the NBA in offensive rebounds and second in defensive rebounds.

Chicago will more than likely have to go through both Miami and Detroit just to reach the conference finals. But the Bulls played both teams very well this year, taking three of four against both teams. They are more than capable of advancing through the first two rounds and, by the time they reach the conference finals, will be overflowing with confidence.

The other half of the finals will be filled by the Mavericks, who dominated the regular season like no team since the 1998 Bulls. Dallas led the NBA with 67 wins, six more than any other team in the league, and flirted with the landmark 70 wins throughout the season. Its combination of offense and defense cannot be matched, which will enable the Mavs to survive the tough Western Conference playoffs.

What makes Dallas so dangerous is its complete lack of weakness. There is very little, if anything, that the Mavs don’t do well. They are in the top 10 in the league in almost every statistical category.

The Mavs are ninth in points per game and fourth in points allowed per game. They are fifth in offensive field-goal percentage and seventh in defensive field-goal percentage. They are fourth in three-point shooting and seventh in defensive three-point percentage. They are third in point and rebound differential and fourth in blocked shots differential. And they can play any style, whether it’s a run-and-gun game with Phoenix or a half-court contest against San Antonio. There is no style that Dallas can’t adapt to.

The only thing holding back the Mavs last year was their history of not winning that trademark series that put them over the top. Dallas accomplished that last year with its defeat of San Antonio in the second round and now knows how to win in the playoffs. That ability will come in handy against the stacked Western Conference.

The common theme among both teams is their well-rounded style of play. Both Dallas and Chicago exhibit very little weaknesses and both are capable of adjusting their game to better fit who their opponent. These are qualities that are consistent with championship teams of the past.

Dallas and Chicago will both have difficult paths through the playoffs but the journey will be well worth it when they meet in the NBA Finals. When it’s all said and done we expect the best team in the league this year, the Mavericks, to win it all when the dust settles.

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