On Mike Brown and the NBA Finals

Before I start talking about Basketball, I want to make one quick note: Mike Axisa, one of the fine writers at MLB Trade Rumors featured one of my posts on his weekly blog recap (link here).  You guys and gals should be ashamed if you call yourselves Baseball fans and don’t read MLB Trade Rumors.  The writing is superb, and it’s easy to find the topics that interest you most.

But I’ll start off with my thoughts on the Mike Brown hiring.  For the most part, my friends who are all Lakers fans are worried about the signing.  It’s an attitude of “I’m really concerned about Mike Brown and his ability to coach this team to the championship.  I think he could do well, but he probably won’t.”  It’s sort of how I felt about Don Mattingly when I heard that he was going to be the manager.  I suppose the proper phrase would be “cautiously optimistic”.  I’m not a fan of the Lakers, so I’d like to think I can look at this a bit more objectively.  First off, I honestly think almost anybody could coach this team to the playoffs.  Particularly in Basketball where a .500 record can land you the 8 seed.  The Lakers still have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum (when healthy), and Ron Artest, and Lamar Odom off the bench.  That’s still a very solid foundation.  Yes, they’re missing a good Point Guard, but they’ve been missing that for years now, and they still won two rings.  The Miami Heat have shown us that a good Point Guard isn’t a necessity to make it to the NBA Finals.

The biggest problem for Mike Brown is something Bill Simmons alludes to in his most recent column, where he talked about his interview with former coach Phil Jackson.  That issue is that Mike Brown is going to have to deal with a group of veterans that, amongst others, Kobe Bryant plays for.  An older, slowly declining Kobe Bryant.  Kobe will be one of many players who are the last to realize that they are declining.  Most recently, we saw Jorge Posada with all of his drama.  As Kobe gets worse and worse, but continues to be the focus of his team and continues to try to be the number 1 option, the Lakers are going to decline with him, and Mike Brown has been put in the unenviable position of having to tell Kobe that he’s not good enough anymore to be that guy.  That will be the biggest challenge for Brown as the Head Coach: Dealing with Kobe.  Sure, it’s nice that he’s a defensive-minded coach, and I assume that the Lakers will play good defense, and a little defense can go a long way.  But this team will live and die with Kobe, seeing the relationship between him and Mike Brown play out will be fascinating.

As for the NBA Finals, my thoughts are this: The Miami Heat are definitely favored right now.  They have their Big 3, and they just knocked out Boston and Chicago to get to the Finals, so their path was as difficult as possible.  They also play very strong defense, as evidenced by how they locked down MVP Derrick Rose during the Eastern Conference Finals, and prevented the Bulls from scoring over 85 points in a 4 quarter game in the last 4 games of the series (The Bulls scored over 100 points in the first game, which they won, and 93 points in Game 4, but that was in overtime).  But while it’s easy to stop Derrick Rose by manning LeBron James and Chris Bosh on him, trying that against Dirk Nowitzki will not give them as good of results.  This is because Dirk is way bigger than Rose, and he’s also a much better jump-shooter.  Plus, Dallas is a great 3-point scoring team, so Dirk can easily pass the ball away to one of their 3-point shooters, and make the Heat pay for attempting to collapse too much on him.

I think the games are going to come down to how well the Mavericks Offense can score against the Miami Defense, because I think the Heat won’t have much of a problem putting up a lot of points against the Mavs.  The last couple of games against the Thunder showed us that Dallas is vulnerable to quick guards penetrating and driving to the rim.  The Heat happen to have this guy named Dwayne Wade, you may have heard of him, and he can do that exact thing very well.  LeBron and Chris Bosh are also very strong in that department, although they are bigger and slower.  I think if the Mavs surrendered 90+ points every game to the Thunder (which they did in all but one game), they’ll do the same thing against the Heat.  So they’re going to have to be able to outscore the Heat against their strong defense.

The bottom line to me is this: Dirk Nowitzki can take over and a win a game on his own, that’s how well he’s playing right now.  It didn’t matter if it was against the Lakers, or the Thunder, and I don’t think it’ll matter against the Heat either.  If he gets in the zone, and starts making ridiculous jump-shot after ridiculous jump-shot, then I think Dallas has a very good chance to win this series.  Both teams have shown the ability to out-grit their opponent, and I think this will be a tough, gritty series on both ends.  I’ll say that the Heat win in 7 games, and they will all be very close.  Given that that’s my prediction, we’ll probably be able to look back in a couple weeks and laugh at how horribly wrong my pick was.

What’s your prediction for the NBA Finals?  Tell me what you think with a comment!


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2 Comments on “On Mike Brown and the NBA Finals”

  1. Nick Kouris Says:

    I don’t like the Heat, so I’ll pulling for Mavs in 6 or 7!! Great blog, Matt!! I will check this periodically for more sports related updates! Thanks. And I think Mike Brown, with his defensive abilities as coach, can really help the Lakers get back to Championship calliber.

  2. Haha you can only make the playoffs with .500 record in the Eastern Conference!
    West is pretty tough! one game has the power to change your standing from 5th to 8th in the west!

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