Carter & Swift NBA (Finale): Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

We’ve been wanting a Kobe vs. LeBron finals ever since the Nike Puppet Commercials came out. It’s in our reach. So…close. Alright, I can’t wait any longer, let’s play this out now.

Swift:
Before we get there, before we toast, our final topic….

Miami LA. The whole reason Mr. O’Brien had us write this particular piece. Storylines. Hollywood vs. South Beach. Kobe v. Bron. Can Metta slow Bron? Can Nash guard Wade/Allen? Does Howard make Bosh pay? Does Miami stick with small ball against Gasol/Howard? Who makes the more ignorant decisions, Mr. Potato Head or Crazy Eyes?? Can LeBron find the drive to repeat? Does Kobe stay healthy enough in his 17th season? Who’s bench provides the spark in that all important Game that will turn the series?

You’ve got a traditional team, with a pass first point, a shooting 2, a defender of a 3, a talented 4, and a beast 5. You have a very non-traditional team, with no real set lineup, just a mindset of playing the 5 best at that moment and matching up how it’s deemed best fit.

To me, it comes down to this. As truly great as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Steve Nash, Ray Allen, etc. all are, this series will solely come down to Gasol and Howard. Miami is going to play small. That’s when they’re at their best. If they choose to play Joel Anthony to guard one of the 2, I’ll take Kobe’s 6th, and laugh after a 4-0 sweep. They’ll play small, hit 3’s, make it very tough for LA to guard them. But as tough as it would be for LA to guard them, LA has their opportunity. You have two talented and great 7 footers going against two guys who aren’t true post defenders. Dwight Howard. Earth to Dwight Howard. For 7 games, you will be guarded by Chris Bosh! Pau, you can be soft as Charmin, but listen, LeBron James will be playing 45 minutes a night and will be taxed having to “do it all” on the offensive end. You have to punish him on the box. It’s really that simple.

KC, LeBron could give you 40-10-10. Kobe might give us 50-5-5. I really don’t care though, because in this series, I don’t think it will matter. If Dwight wants his ring, it will be ours. If Gasol wants to cement himself as more stud than soft in the minds of LA’s faithful, he’ll come out ready. I just don’t see a way that you can matchup with that. You’ll hit some 3’s, you’ll get some fastbreak buckets. But over the course of 7 games, I think the size HAS THE POTENTIAL to win this series.

That said, I do not see it happening. I expect both Kobe and LeBron to play a fantastic series. And I expect Dwight to absolutely melt on the big stage. I don’t think this story is over. I don’t think Dwight is in LA for good yet, and next June worries me. I see him struggling mightily.

Miami in 7, winning in Miami. LeBron James, Finals MVP, though I see this Finals being remembered as Dwight’s meltdown more than anything. Stay tuned folks. This story has only begun.

Carter
I want a Miami-LA Final for the entertainment and chance to view quite possibly one of the best series of all time, easily the most star-studded series in the history of the NBA. Given that, part of me hopes my Heat, scratch that– my guy LeBron James– does not have to go through what will be the most over-analyzed, ignorantly criticized, sports media orgy spectacles in the history of sports. Like you, I do not believe that the series will be won based on the performance of the two best players in the game, being LeBron and Kobe. This series will be ultimately determined by the will and toughness of the supporting casts, each with their own question marks.

LA has the closest thing to a perfectly constructed starting five that the league has ever seen. Miami has the most dynamic and versatile lineup since the Magic-led Showtime Lakers of the 80’s. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, the latter being minimal when both are healthy, and the series would be a heavyweight fight of epic proportions.

I chose Miami to win in 7 for one reason: I am going to stand in the corner for LeBron James. Do I really think the Heat have better pieces? No. Do I think the Heat are the tougher team? No. Do I think Dwyane Wade can contain Kobe? No. I just have a religious-like faith in LeBron to be superhuman every night he steps on the floor. Despite the fact that I know this series will not be won or lost on LeBron’s shoulders, I cannot help but give him the benefit of the doubt.

Objectively speaking, I am extremely worried about the Heat if they get matched up with LA. The Lakers have a point guard who runs the show like a maestro, a center as physically imposing as any we’ve ever seen, a power forward with the most diverse skill set since a young KG, and of course the Black Mamba, a cold blooded assassin who wants nothing else but to stomp on your neck for 48 minutes.

Miami has a great point guard, when LeBron is the distributor. They also have a great versatile defender who anchors their defensive schemes and energizes their potent fast break game, his name is LeBron James. They also happen to have a guy that, along with Mamba, finishes in the top 3 in scoring every year, this guy named LeBron James. Get the picture? LeBron is the best scorer, passer, rebounder, and defender on the Miami Heat. Although Dwyane Wade can be a efficient and big time scorer, 90 percent of his buckets come from five feet and in. Meet Dwight Howard. Meet the new anti-flop rule. Wade will struggle mightily to be efficient in this series. Chris Bosh is one of the best pick and roll bigs in the game due to his ability to hit the 20 foot jump shot with ease. Meet Pau Gasol. Pau is the only player in the league better than Bosh at that exact skill. Both have the tendency to go on prolonged Vagisil regimens so there is no “toughness” edge to make me feel more comfortable, and, on top of that, the Heat lack a true center making Bosh’s defensive matchup Dwight Howard.

The one thing the Heat do have is a stable full of shooters. Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Shane Battier, Mike Miller, and Mario Chalmers have all shown their ability to knock down open 3’s with ease. Given that LeBron will be running the show and demanding doubles, the number of opportunities to knock down 3’s will be limitless. Ray Allen is a big game performer which will settle my heart rate in late game situations and his experience against the Lakers in NBA Finals situations will be extremely valuable. BUT, if Miami plans on relying upon 3’s to repeat as NBA Champions they are in for a huge letdown. LeBron can be LeBron but if they cannot find ways to get easy buckets in the paint, they will lose. Period.

If we do in fact get this matchup in the NBA Finals, it will be LA’s to lose. Am I positive that Pau Gasol will stay focused and aggressive against Chris Bosh? Absolutely not. Am I sure that Dwight will be the beast he should be? Not at all. Do I trust Mike Brown to not make a crucial tactical mistake by going to a zone with Allen/Rashard/Miller all on the floor? Nope.

The thing LA has going for them in this matchup is that all those things can be resolved by choice. Pau can choose to play tough. Dwight can choose to be a physical presence. Mike Brown can choose to let Kobe and Nash run the logistics. Miami does not have that luxury. Their best game plan is put the ball in LeBron’s hands and hope he does what he did last year while the shooters consistently knock down open looks. Those things are not simple products of choice and will, hence my cautiousness and unwillingness to really buy into the “Miami is better than LA” sentiment.

In the end, though, I will stand by LeBron. This series will undoubtedly be remembered for Kobe vs. LeBron but will be decided by the supporting casts. Either way, by the conclusion of this season, I believe Kobe Bryant will have tied Michael Jordan for rings or LeBron will have begun CEMENTING his legacy. Although I pray for the latter, to be honest, I’m okay with both. Let the games begin.

Swift
Couldn’t have said it any better myself. Countdown to Tip. Now.

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