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NBA Finals predictions

Here is how Daily News Sixers beat writer Bob Cooney and columnist John Smallwood see the NBA Finals:


As much as everyone wants to talk about Miami's "Big Three" of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and what they all can do offensively, it is the Heat's defense that has carried them to the NBA Finals.

In their first playoff game this season against the Sixers, forward Thaddeus Young had his way against Miami, slashing to the basket and getting there with little resistance. The Heat took notice and took Young pretty much out of the series after that. In the conference finals, they limited league MVP Derrick Rose to 35 percent shooting from the floor and forced him into 3.8 turnovers per game.

Dirk Nowitzki has been ridiculously good in these playoffs, scoring over 28 a game, making close to 52 percent of his shots and 93 percent of his free throws. But as they have done in their previous three series, the Heat will find a way to stop him. And don't underestimate what the return of Udonis Haslem has done for Miami. He is the true team leader.

Much to the chagrin of many NBA fans, I have to go with Miami in this one. Too many offensive weapons, and a total shut down defense when necessary.

The pick: Miami in 6.


This is why they did it.

Whatever criticism or negative reaction LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh got for forming their triumverate in South Beach, it all becomes sour grapes if the Miami Heat wins the NBA title.

But James isn't the only one with his legacy at stake. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd have combined for three NBA Finals appearances but no titles.

They both complete their Hall of Fame resumes if the Dallas Mavericks win.

The overall makeup of these teams got a lot closer with Udonis Haslem getting back to full speed for Miami.

Still, I like the intangibles for Dallas — particularly Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood getting physical with James and Wade when the drive to the basket. Dallas doesn't get pushed around anymore.

The Mavs can't stop Miami's "Big Three," but they can slow it. Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic are scoring factors off the bench.

The pick: Dallas in 6.

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